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AI: AV TECHNOLOGY IS GETTING SMARTER LOUD AND CLEAR: LIVE EVENTS SPECIAL REWRITING THE RULES ON DINING ADDRESSING DIVERSITY IN AV DRONE SHOWS TAKING OFF LATEST TECH RELEASES
VR NEVER FELT SO REAL A world first: AVTE travels to Lille for an exclusive look at TORE â€“ hailed the most immersive VR experience on the planet
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09/05/2018 13:52:41 09/05/2018 11:14
Michael Garwood, Editor
SEEING IS BELIEVING
ello and a very warm welcome to to learn more about its potential. the fifth instalment of AV Hopping across the Alps, AVTE joined Panasonic Technology Europe magazine. for the annual Milan Design Week, where the We’ve another packed issue for you manufacturer – celebrating its 100th anniversary – to enjoy – with the following 76 was showcasing its ‘Air Inventions’ sensory pages demonstrating again what an innovative, experience, which combines modern AV with air exciting and – at times – truly conditioning. Yep, air conditioning fascinating industry we’re all a (see page 58). part of. “The ability to walk Food for thought In fact, speaking as an ageing around without a B2B hack, over the past two Back home, and sticking with projection, we sat down with the months I’ve had some of the most [VR] headset in a exciting experiences of my career. founder of London restaurant seemingly wide chain Inamo to discuss how it’s using interactive projectors to A new reality open space was Take our front cover for example. reinvent the traditional dining difficult to Many (if not all) of you reading experience – all but removing the these scribbles will have at some need for staff interaction and comprehend” putting customers in complete point experienced a form of virtual reality (VR). But to control of their orders. Finally, as part of two special reports, we spoke to borrow the title of a 1974 classic, you ain’t seen nothing yet (page 18). the industry about what it takes to put on the AVTE travelled to Lille to test out The Open perfect outdoor event (come wind, rain or shine), Reality Experience (TORE) – a new take on the VR plus a look at how the use of drones during live 3D CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment). performances are starting to take off. We also take an in-depth look at the reasons why We were promised the most immersive VR experience of our lives and we were not shortthere remains a significant gender gap in the AV changed. The feeling of being able to walk around, industry, looking at where the problem lies and the without a VR headset, in an unfamiliar environment best approach to help address it. (18th century Paris) in a seemingly wide open space All this and so much more. without barriers (walls) was at times difficult to See you at InfoComm! comprehend. We spoke to those behind the project firstname.lastname@example.org
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26 Ahead of The Curve VR takes on a new design, with TORE – the world’s first eight metre spherical VR CAVE designed to create the most immersive experience ever built
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Special Report: Diversity in AV
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Just why are there so few women working in AV? Is it a problem? Where do its roots lie? What can be done? The industry has its say
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SPECIAL: LIVE EVENTS In our latest In Focus series, AVTE spoke to some of the world’s leading brands to discuss what it takes to put on the perfect live performance
SHARING’S CARING IN EDUCATION Jonathan Owen talks to AVTE about how the LTSMG is helping to ensure AV professionals working in education all over the world never stop learning
8 Industry Insights
FOOD FOR THOUGHT Read how interactive projectors have reinvented the dining experience at restaurant chain Inamo – we spoke to its co-founder Noel Hunwick
AN AIR OF EXCITEMENT IN MILAN AVTE visited Milan Design Week 2018 where Panasonic debuted a bold new mix of AV technology that’s guaranteed to stimulate the senses
39 Eye on Recruitment 58 Meet your Integrator
40 Tech Guide 75 Brief Encounter 5
DIVERSITY: A PRESSING ISSUE Experienced tech journalist Erica Basnicki on the issue of gender diversity in the AV industry
ny industry where one gender Still, the assumption was wrong. Time to shift wildly outnumbers the other has a focus to a solution. gender diversity problem. There’s Here’s where it becomes a much more difficult enough published research to task: We can discuss occupational conditions for illustrate that any organisation with women, workplace culture, the education of a homogenous workforce is missing out on better women, the role of women in families and all ideas, and that is a problem. Women make up a these other “big picture” issues – they are tiny percentage of the larger AV legitimate and need discussion. industry, that is a fact! They are also massively unwieldy It is frustrating to attend any and create a sense that neither you “Women make “Women in (insert subsection of the or I can actually do much about up a tiny broader technology industry here)” the situation and that it’s up to event only to hear the majority of percentage of ‘others’ to address it. the talks centre around whether or the larger AV not the lack of diversity is a Visibility problem. Of course it’s a problem. industry, that I prefer a more hands-on approach. It’s not perfect, but it is as good of a is a fact!” start as any: make the women who Blame game There’s no point in blaming anyone do work in AV more visible. Since you are reading this for the situation, but I’ll point the finger at myself to illustrate the publication, why don’t we start problem: I was one of several writers on the ISE here: Who is speaking to the trade press on your Daily this year. A colleague happened to company’s behalf? Last month’s issue of AV comment on the “cosmopolitan” nature of the Technology Europe featured six photos of women quoted in its articles. That’s a positive. show. “More diversity”, he said, than another In the professional audio world, where I do most show that shall remain unnamed. I hadn’t noticed. There were definitely women of my writing, it would be a surprise to see any at the show, but I just assumed they were doing women at all in a publication. At least up until PR. In my defence, the only women I spoke to recently, no doubt thanks to the #metoo campaign, an increased focus on how women are treated covering Hall 7 were doing PR. In my experience within the wider music and entertainment industry, writing about the AV industry, that’s nearly and a collective will to rectify gender imbalance. always been the case: After six years working I know I am not the only person to make the with a variety of trade magazines, I have only ever interviewed one woman. One out of false assumption that the women I see at trade hundreds of interviews. shows aren’t actually involved with the
Erica Basnicki is a freelance journalist specialising in the pro audio industry - www.94dBA.com
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“If your organisation values gender diversity, then it’s worth a little time and effort to make sure it’s projecting that. Be a thought leader”
technology and I think this is in part because we don’t often see women talking about the technology (or read about them). This is especially evident on panel discussions. I’ve never organised one and I’m sure it’s not easy but don’t tell me it’s impossible to find at least one qualified woman who can participate. Maybe there is only one, but find her. Ask her. Put women front and centre more often and two things will happen: the first is that it works against the biases and assumptions we all may develop about their role in the AV industry. These assumptions can manifest in small objectionable ways or as blatant sexism and objectification. It’s a fact that this still happens, but it shouldn’t. The second is that in making women more visible, it makes the industry more welcoming for
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“After six years working with a variety of trade magazines, I have only ever interviewed one woman. One out of hundreds of interviews”
other women to join. Imagine taking a group of young female students to a trade show and the few women present in a sea of men are ‘booth babes’. Now try and convince them that it’s a great industry to work in. If your organisation values gender diversity (and really, what side of this debate do you want to be on?), then it’s worth a little time and effort to make sure it’s projecting that. Be a thought leader. Leverage the innovation a diverse workforce creates for the end user. Interact and engage with the entire industry. Above all, be part of a solutions-based approach. It’s only a problem for as long as we let it be one. Read our editorial special exploring the subject of gender diversity in the AV industry, starting on page 47
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THE CHANGING FACE OF AUDIO VISUAL
How AV technology has evolved over the years and what to expect in the not too distant future
ooking back, it feels as though the meaning some truly awe-inspiring visuals. future we have predicted has not Lampless projectors now offer 20,000 hours of life materialised the way we thought it before the LEDs need replacing (as opposed to might. The laser guns and flying cars around 2,000 hours in a traditional projector). depicted in futuristic films have instead Beyond picture quality and maintenance-free been represented by a push for fewer firearms and operation, laser projectors aren’t as fragile, and the appearance of electric vehicles. Whilst tech offer nearly instant on/off. These benefits mean companies attempt to develop self-driving cars, lasers will probably be the future of front with mixed success, our natural determination to projection for some time to come. protect our species and environment have led to an Massive, cubic CRT displays were replaced by arguably more sustainable future than the one we flat-screen technology. Initially plasma technology saw Marty McFly arrive in. seemed likely to be the display As other industries have technology of the future, only for progressed, so too has AV. My “Digital canvasses us to discover that their glassfirst experience of business audio fronted composition made them make it possible visual solutions was 3-gun CRT very heavy (therefore difficult to projectors. These were capable of for people to feel fit onto partition walls) and that producing a fantastic image in a they suffered terribly from ‘screen immersed in a darkened room but their expense burn’, making them impossible to and technical limitations made use long-term in public display different world, them largely inaccessible to environments. LCD screens that where VR tech still had previously been too expensive most businesses. The LCD projector changed all to produce at anything other than struggles to find of this, as several manufacturers 20-inch in size, appeared as a its application” produced installation projectors of genuine replacement for CRT ever-more impressive resolutions screens and the projected image. and brightness-levels. Then there Digital canvasses now make it was a race to produce the tiniest possible possible for people to feel completely immersed projectors; something that could slip into your in a different world, where virtual reality briefcase to help you present at the drop of a hat. technology still struggles to find its application. Simultaneously vendors tried to produce the perfect Newer, smarter VR tools allow users to move education projector; meeting the cost, warranty around in a space and to approach virtual and brightness demands in that market could mean objects around them. However, it’s a enormous success as interactive whiteboards were disconcerting experience as you can’t see the deployed in schools all over the UK. things that surround you in the real world, giving Today’s projector enhancements include massive you the feeling that you are about to crack your flexibility in the shape and size of projected image shins on the coffee table or trip over the dog. John Chandler is HR, Training, Health & Safety Manager at Focus 21
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“Wireless visual solutions have allowed us to escape the confusion of everincreasing video and audio connections”
Digital canvasses instead deliver a sort of virtual surrounding, where real world is accompanied by virtual experiences. Media walls and digital canvasses are becoming the norm in both retail and corporate environments and the recent developments in AV over IP is leading the way to bigger and more exciting installations. Products like Crestron’s NVX allow you to transmit significantly more sources to your devices than a traditional AV set-up. This reduces installation time whilst improving the appearance of an AV installation by allowing you to run one cable rather than many and letting you transmit your audio visual assets over much greater distances using copper or fibre IP cabling. Wires started to disappear from our meeting rooms as wireless microphones materialised. Based on DECT technology, wireless microphones provide a flexible audio solution for rooms of varying sizes without being prescriptive of the room layout. Wireless visual solutions have allowed us to escape the confusion of ever-increasing video and audio connections. Suddenly visitors to meeting rooms were able to display whatever they want 12
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from their PC, Mac or mobile device at the touch of a button. This technology has justifiably been enormously successful. Possibly the most Back To The Future-like developments have been in video conferencing. Adopted by the audio visual industry (because it requires large screens and high-quality audio solutions to work well), video conferencing has been implemented by enterprise businesses all over the world. It’s not-yet pervasive in smaller businesses, but lower-cost hardware, such as high-quality cameras that can be used with a PC are making video conferencing more accessible. Cloud video conferencing solutions now provide an easy and inexpensive way for us all to meet face-to-face. Perhaps I was taking all this fiction far-too literally; we were never supposed to really have self-fastening trainers or hover-boards. However, it’s exciting to see that AV technologists are developing the stunning visual solutions we have longed-for since first setting eyes on Blade Runner. It’s also comforting that instead of relying on flying cars to reduce our road traffic, the AV industry is helping us travel less and protect the things that really matter.
“Wires started to disappear from our meeting rooms as wireless materialised”
AI: REDEFINING THE CONNECTED AGENDA Voice recognition and machine learning are revolutionising corporate communications and display technologies, reports Steve May
ntelligence is like love, we can’t have enough of it,” says Paul Grey, principal analyst at IHS Markit. Speaking on the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) at the IFA 2018 Global press Conference, a precursor to Europe’s largest technology expo (31 August – 5 September), he confirmed there is now unprecedented growth in AI technologies. “We’re seeing a huge surge in innovation involving artificial intelligence, neural nets, deep learning and pattern recognition,” he says. “They’re all techniques being used to solve problems.” But this is not a re-tread of IoT, he cautions, “it’s about acting intelligently to data.” AI he says, is about “understanding intent.” Smart thinking The rise of the technology has certainly made rapid inroads into the consumer space, where it’s being eagerly adopted by consumers
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wowed by voice control. Amazon won’t disclose numbers, beyond saying that “tens of millions” of Amazon Alexa products had been sold since launch back in 2014. According to research by Panasonic, voice functionality will feature on 93 per cent of WiFi speakers by 2020. Apparently half of those using connected devices say they feel more in control. “Connected living is going to be a big bet for us this year,” echoes Nick Bevan, head of product management for Home Appliances for Samsung UK. Samsung’s own intelligent assistant, Bixby, is seen as a key piece of the brand’s smart consumer strategy. Bixby is able to recognise individual voices and provide personalised feedback, based on learned preferences. LG has similarly invested heavily in ThinQ, a deep learningbased artificial intelligence ecosystem, which it will deploy across all LG business divisions. At its core is voice control, but it also supports video and sensor recognition, as well as spatial awareness and human body detection.
> Above: Paul Gray, principal analyst at IHS Markit
> Left: LG’s ThinQ TV uses AI to provide voice controlled selections
To amplify the concept, the brand demonstrated a range of AI electronics at its spring InnoFest dealer expo. “DeepThinQ is the embodiment of our open philosophy, to provide the most powerful AI solutions to our customers via a strategy of open platform, open partnership and open connectivity,” declared Dr. IP Park, LG’s chief technology officer. AI for all But with such a seismic shift happening in the B2C market, what impact is AI having in B2B? What are the implications for corporate AV, system integrators and end users, and how does this AI surge dovetail with a shift to next generation displays? Time to ask Alexa... “Artificial intelligence is no longer exclusive to elite, multinational corporations. In fact, it’s already transforming the corporate sector, supporting the development of increasingly more collaborative and productive work environments,” insists Mark Dew, head of UK B2B sales for Vestel. “With the advent of machine translation, businesses of all sizes can now maximise their scope and reach. They have the power to cross borders and collaborate virtually,
“Artificial intelligence is no longer exclusive to elite, multinational corporations” May/June 2018
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and in real time, with international colleagues.” Dew suggests AI innovation will also revolutionise the education sector, taking e-learning to another level. “No longer at a disadvantage, long-distance pupils can benefit from interactive learning, despite their geographical distance from schools and colleges. For a growing number of displaced students, automatic machine translation is now vital, helping to minimise any further disruption to their education.” Vestel isn’t just blue-sky gazing. Its Collaborative Cloud system is already finding applications in boardrooms and educational establishments. The system integrates an interactive, 20-point capacitive touch 4K displays with cloud services, enabling employees and students to log into a virtual office or classroom environment from anywhere in the world. Collaborative technology is rapidly becoming ubiquitous, says Dew. Wireless screen sharing solutions allows documents to be worked on simultaneously by employees from several different subsidiary offices or by students from different schools and campuses. “They allow ideas to be discussed and worked on securely, ensuring that various permission levels can be set to manage the visibility of internal assets and documents.” Toshiba was enthusiastically backing AI at ISE, earlier this year. Tim Matthews, European product manager for B2B displays, told AV Technology Europe that artificial intelligence offers several potential breakthroughs, in particular enabling the next generation of natural language
> Above: Samsung’s ‘The Wall’ Professional UHD intelligent display
understanding. “Our teams in Europe demonstrated Toshiba’s B2B Voice Assistant, using hardware launched earlier at CES. We see a very early win in simply adding voice requests and answers to an existing visual experience. Imagine how much easier it is to simply ask for ‘two cheeseburger meals with a lemonade’, rather than navigating through several screens of touch options. Then imagine if the solution is available in your target customers’ preferred languages, and if that language is dynamically recognised from the moment the user utters their request. Those are some of the impactful benefits of AI-based natural language processing available this year.” Market demand Matthews says Toshiba’s ISE showcase attracted considerable interest. The company staged a number of live demos to illustrate potential user benefits: “A hotel guest can simply ask to extend their check-out time or ask for the room service menu to appear on their hotel TV screen. A supermarket shopper can ask an aisle assistant where they can find dried pulses, or which wine would go well with a Thai Green curry. All of the experiences we are helping our integrator partners build, add the convenience of voice in addition to their existing touch solutions.” But will the introduction of AI require integrators to learn entirely new skill-sets? “Yes and no,” counters Matthews. “There are a number of 16
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“Imagine how much easier it is to simply ask for ‘two cheeseburger meals with a lemonade’, rather than navigating through several screens with touch options” highly specialised skills at play. Building an AI-based natural language UX is one such example. Voice capture hardware, which can be tailored for different environments, is another. But our B2B Voice Assistant does all of that heavy lifting.” By way of example, he says an integrator receives a one-stop shop, basically voice hardware plus a cloudbased platform to build the experience. “We even provide sample templates for target domains in retail, fast food, meeting rooms, hospitality and others. The end user takes the natural language domain they need and customises it for their own end customer. We can provide support and training here too.” Intelligent marketing Once the voice experience has been built, the system professional can use existing skills to fulfil those intents, using familiar signage and solutions integration. The obvious next step is the full adoption of AI into digital
“The technology has been on the roadmap for a long time and there are different ways to skin a cat, but AI is the future increasingly embedded in tools. “Supporting spaces that use AI can become more challenging because the way the system works is less clear... it’s making decisions on its own. AI also lives on the inputs it can get, so to deliver AI systems we will need to provide more connected systems, which means learning to live more naturally on the network and delivering much more secure systems.”
“AI will lead to better audience targeting and analytics, and a much better end-user experience in discovery and interaction, with these next generation digital signage points” signage, so what’s a realistic timeframe for that? “From a Toshiba perspective, we will be enabling prototypes of these voice experiences for our early-access partner integrators within this year,” teases Matthews. “AI will lead to better audience targeting and analytics, and a better end user experience in discovery and interaction, with these next generation digital signage points.” A new era has arrived Dan Jackson, director of enterprise technology at Crestron agrees will profoundly transform all technology industries, including the AV industry. “At its core, AI is used to augment or replace human tasks with technology. In our world, that could be realised in several ways: helping support staff better do their jobs in deploying, maintaining or supporting the systems, or on the user side, making their experience in the space better.” He cites cameras with smart tracking and auto cropping features that are already replacing basic PTZ functions. Crestron has already unveiled XiO Cloud, a new connected platform that uses AI to provide analytics on the usage of spaces. It’s also working on AI integration for networked audio, video and control systems. The challenge, suggests Jackson, is to understand how to work alongside artificial intelligence as it becomes
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Digital signage AI could also have a fundamental impact on the digital signage business, as displays shift to 8K resolution. At present creating native 8K content is expensive and delivering it is technically challenging, but AI promises an interim solution. Samsung has developed AI with the ability to process 4K and lower sources and achieve close to 7,680 × 4,320 resolution. It uses a technique called Machine Learning Super Resolution (MLSR); AI driven algorithms compare low and high-quality versions of the same content, and interpolate what’s missing. Detail Creation improves texture in low definition areas, while Edge Restoration improves pixel definition (this will be particularly useful for text displays), and Noise Reduction compensates for image compression. MLSR will also intelligently apply filters for brightness, black level and colour. The end result is so good, users would be hard pressed to tell native 8K from AI upscaling. MLSR processing could soon be seen on Samsung’s 8K displays and incoming MicroLED products. The Wall Professional, announced earlier this year, features a modular design, which allows integrators to build configurations above or below its 146-inch size standard. Samsung says it can even use MLSR processing to improve broadcast audio, perhaps adding emphasis to dialogue and then boosting ambient sound when needed on a scene-by-scene basis. Earlier this year Samsung partnered with Korean broadcaster KT Skylife to broadcast 8K UHD from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. “When you consider that display market is rapidly shifting to the trend of large screens, 8K market growth is an inevitable trend,” says Steve Mitchell, Samsung’s head of product management for TV and AV. “AI is here to stay,” confirms Ralph Santana, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Harman. “The technology has been on the roadmap for a long time, and there are different ways to skin the cat, but AI is definitely the future.”
THE GRAND TORE: VR NEVER FELT SO REAL Ahead of the curve: Antycip Simulation creates a worldfirst virtual reality space for the University of Lille, providing untold business opportunities. AVTE was invited to give it a test run
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hen discussing VR, thoughts often conjure up images of people wearing VR headsets or perhaps, for the more knowledgeable on the subject – a VR CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment). But hidden away in an unassuming and unremarkable looking former TV studio on the outskirts of Lille, France – VR takes a new form. “We believe this is the most immersive example of VR ever built,” proudly proclaimed Yann Coello, director of the SCALab laboratory (Science Cognitive Et Sciences Affectives) at the University, and coordinator of the Equipex IrDIVE investment program (see box out). Designed, built and installed by Antycip Simulation – a French integrator of virtual reality solutions and 3D immersive rooms – The Open Reality Experience (or TORE as it’s more commonly known)
> Above: Back to the future – a walk through 18th century Paris and special 3D glasses
marks a technological leap forward to existing flat-sided, walled VR CAVEs. Capable of housing up to 20 people, TORE – which cost €2.5 million to build – uses a half sphere shaped painted acrylic screen (creating a room within a room) to provide a 180-degree view display with no visible walls or edges, thus removing any sense of depth and height once inside. World without boundaries Powered by 20 Christie Tri-DLP projectors (placed out of view behind), and using custom-made mapping/warping software (called myIG), the sphere is designed to create an immersive realistic 3D environment to walk around in. In fact, Antycip claims it’s so realistic, they’ve had to put measures in place to ensure people don’t physically walk into the walls, with the image blurring or disappearing if they get too close. “TORE represents a major scientific breakthrough for both scientists and technologists, enabling them to benefit from a totally innovative visualisation space that goes beyond the capacities of an immersive CAVE,” gushed Coello who’s been part of TORE since funding was granted in 2012 (see box out, page 21). “It really does set itself apart from any other CAVE, annihilating the visual disruption caused by cubic shapes. A traditional VR cave would have a front, sides and sometimes a top and bottom. In these environments, the
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content is not always fluid because you have different sharp angles that break the feeling of immersion. With TORE there are no break in the vision and there is no other structure like this in the world.” Seeing is believing To get a clearer understanding, AVTE was invited to test it out for ourselves, with the firm offering three different user cases by example. But before entering the half sphere – there were two things required by way of preparation. Firstly, due to the importance of keeping the acrylic CAVE in tip-top shape and the VR illusion unhindered, all those that step onto its surface must wear a set of slippers. Secondly, and most crucially, users must don a pair of 3D glasses – comparable to those you wear when viewing a 3D movie at the cinema or at home. But, as you can see from the images, these are no ordinary 3D cinema glasses. Equipped with infrared sensors (see picture), these
“TORE really does set itself apart from any other CAVE, annihilating the visual disruption caused by cubic shapes ” 19
COVER FEATURE communicate directly with TORE’s tracking system (hidden), which follows the individual’s every movement, including where they happen to be looking, adjusting the image viewed accordingly. VR without the headache The glasses, so says Yann, provide significant benefits over VR headsets, removing eyestrain, allowing for longer usage, and improving balance due to the wearer being able to see their own body. “The glasses decreases visual fatigue, and more readily reinforces the immersion in the virtual world being projected,” Yann explained. “After 10 minutes wearing a VR helmet or goggles, it can cause you some problems. “The main difference with TORE is that you are physically embedded into the scene. So, it’s your body in the scene. When you wear a helmet you cannot see yourself, only the visual scene. Here it all feels real. There’s no feeling of claustrophobia and no feeling that you could be about to trip over something.” Down to a fine art With my slippers (forcing me to shuffle around like a moody school child) and glasses on, I stepped into TORE and was immediately transported back in time to 18th century Paris. The location was Pont Notre-Dame, the most famous formely inhabited bridge in the history of Paris. Today, the bridge is an empty open space providing pedestrians and vehicles with scenic 360-degree views of the river Seine and surrounding areas – including NotreDame cathedral. Back then however, the bridge (think Florence today) was lined with 60 or more buildings and a hive of activity. One of those buildings was (is) engrained in Parisian history – a tiny art boutique called Au Grand Monarque (later A la Pagode), occupied by Parisian art trader Edmé-François Gersaint. Despite being demolished by 1788, a multidisciplinary team of scientists specialised in computer and historical sciences and 3D computer graphics professionals were able to bring the boutique back to life digitally for people (such as historians) to view, walk around and experience for themselves today. “It was rebuilt using a 3D scanner,” explained Yann. “We have taken a lot of different examples from various different pieces of art and literature. It’s exactly how it was at the time, with real images of the pictures on the wall and the size and design of the building.” Mixed reality Being a digital recreation, the experience of walking around the boutique was a surreal one – like being absorbed into a computer game or animated film (think Mary Poppins or Tron). But that’s not a criticism. The objective of being truly immersed was achieved 20
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instantly – with no visual boundaries to be seen and a real sense of space and freedom. The tracking system worked with minimal (if any) latency, ensuring that views will always remain clear and adjusted accordingly. From there, the setting was changed by a watching technician, sending me out into the street to give me a full view of the boutique from the bridge, whilst also taking in the sights of the surrounding areas. “Careful where you walk,” someone shouted from behind me. “They didn’t have toilets back then.” I checked, but it was all clear – perhaps something to add in the future? Perhaps not. A room with a view The second of the three-user case demonstrations transported me to a room inside a French castle, which was once used as a prison and not accessible to the public.
FINANCIAL BACKING TORE was co-financed by the ANR (PIA-Equipex IrDIVE), the European Fund for Regional Economic Development (FEDER); and the Lille Europe Metropolis (MEL) within the IrDIVE framework, a technology platform for Human and Social Sciences.
PIECING IT TOGETHER “The main difference with TORE, is you are physically embedded into the projected scene” Unlike the boutique, the visuals creating the room were put together using a 3D camera scanner. The small room provides the opportunity to walk around as if you were there; crouching down to view different carvings and marks created by prisoners during the era it was used. “It’s all real content, so you are seeing what’s there,” said Yann. “For many this would be the only opportunity to experience, view and study this room.” The third and final room, reverting back to digital again, was a garage holding a Ferrari. This scenario provides the ability to explore the car with great detail, viewing from every angle possible. The 3D effects were so real you could almost feel the car. I even repeatedly moved my head to avoid banging it on an overhead light. Business case All three examples are designed to demonstrate just some of the business cases the project can provide. In total, the project has received €17m in funding as part of a ten-year plan (see box out). Antycip is aiming to have the business commercially operational (and viable) within the next couple of years and is already in discussions with prospective clients. Its main area of focus includes academic research (computer science, historical science and social science), but the company believes there are some big opportunities for businesses and governments when it comes to design. “This is an expensive toy and needs to be monetised,” said Olivier Colot, CRIStAL laboratory director. “The idea is to try and emulate some of the ideas with brands. It could be architecture, it could be automotive, oil and gas, telecoms, energy – you name it. The idea would be to bring some funding from projects. He continued: “If you’re an architect, you can use TORE to make sure the design, the space the lighting
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Measuring four metres high by eight metres wide, the screen is eight metres deep. The projection surface is made of eight 30mm thick curved acrylic elements and two flat ones. These had to be delivered on site before being assembled using liquid acrylic; once the material cooled down, the structure was sanded to obtain an even projection surface. The team at Antycip Simulation had to design specific tools in order to assemble the elements. Different coatings were then tested before opting for the one that would offer the best visual performance. The painting process took two weeks to complete. Antycip also sourced and specified all AV technologies and equipment, and developed a specific plug-in to handle the many video sources.
– everything is perfect. Perhaps you’re a car manufacturer and you want to test out a new design, so you allow consumers to take a look and sit inside first. It’s basically a decision-making tool. If Audi for example wants to have a new door and they want to make sure it slams correctly, they can test it in a VR setting first. “On a bigger scale, if you’re the mayor of a city, you could look at and test out different examples of designs – bringing in people involved with the building of cities, politicians and people within public transportation. “The opportunities are enormous and the possibilities incredibly exciting.” What’s next? With audio already possible, adding to the experiences (although not demonstrated on our visit) the next phase of the project will be in the form of interaction during the VR experience. This would provide feedback and the sensation of touching something physically. “We’re not there yet, but that’s the goal going forward,” said Yann, concluding the tour. With more than 100 researchers and companies all occupying its head office, all focused on advancing gaming, AV, VR and AR technology, it may not be too long before VR again takes another important step forward.
EYE ON RETAIL
> Above: Interactive projectors and tablets are used to completely transform the dining experience, placing the diner in control of how and when they order
AN UN-PHO-GETTABLE DINING EXPERIENCE London restaurant chain Inamo reinvents the dining experience, with AV technology serving as the main course
hen discussing a restaurant, the conversation typically revolves around the quality of food and/ or the quality of service. The AV aspect – unless there’s a power-cut – is usually something that takes more of a back seat when discussing the experience – a side dish if you will. For Inamo, a restaurant chain in London (Soho, Camden and Covent Garden) serving up Pan-Asian cuisine, AV plays a central and unique role in the
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dining experience – some might argue more so than the food itself. It’s a restaurant like no other, with every diner partaking in a rich, personalised, deep filled technology experience from the moment they sit down to the moment they leave. “Whilst the quality of food is paramount, the use of technology revolutionises the basic elements of dining-out,” Noel Hunwick, co-founder and marketing director of Inamo told AVTE during an exclusive chat.
EYE ON LEISURE > Right: Co-founder Noel Hunwick.
“Whilst the quality of food is paramount, the use of technology revolutionises the basic elements of dining-out”
He explained this is achieved thanks its interactive ordering system, powered by projectors embedded in the ceiling above each table. Unlike a traditional sit down restaurant experience, the tables are not simply a flat surface on which to eat and drink. Far from it. Play with your food Each tables is a digital touch sensitive canvas panel, providing interactive features and customisation tools for guests. Menus are digital, with drinks and dishes able to be viewed, selected and ordered at any time at the press of a button or tap of the table. If you’re not sure of your choice or portion size, you can even have an image of the dish displayed on a digital plate in front of you. Added information around its ingredients (allergy concerns) and reviews from other diners are also available. You can even watch your dish being cooked via a live stream from the kitchen – and to kill time while you wait, you can play interactive games directly on the table against your friends (or by yourself). If you’re alone (or just unsociable) you can even watch/view content from your own device, or if
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they’re there for business, conduct a presentation. The technology, explained Hunwick, is designed to put the diner in control of their dining experience. In fact, interaction with a member of staff is almost eradicated completely. Recipe for success “My business partner and I were sitting next to each other at a friend’s birthday in a restaurant and were really struggling to catch a waiter’s attention to buy another round of drinks,” he recalled. “We were in a situation where we wanted to spend some money, but they weren’t letting us. We just couldn’t get their attention and had sit and wait. So, we thought, wouldn’t it be great to reach down, touch the table, and another drink would arrive?’ and then be able to request the bill when we were ready.” “We started brainstorming ideas, so Danny [Potter, co-founder or Inamo] and I created what we call the E-Table. We opened our Inamo Soho restaurant back in 2008 to prove our concept, then our second in St James’, in December 2010 (which relocated to Covent Garden in January 2016) and then our third in Camden, December 2016.”
FEATURE MENU n Chef-cam – live video feed from the kitchen n Games for up to six players, including pong, and memory n The ability to draw on your table surface on different fun and customisable backgrounds (e.g. blackboard, school desk, brick wall, etc.) n A choice of patterns and images as a ‘virtual-tablecloth’, that are themed according to season of the year n The ability to personalise the images on your tables in advance (e.g. to feature pictures of the birthday girl/boy, or company logos, etc.) n The ability for guests to rate their dishes, service, and overall experience at the end of their meal, as well as providing their email address
EYE ON LEISURE
> Above: Guests use an infrared ‘clicker’ to make their selection in Camden
ORDAMO Ordamo is hailed by many as the world’s best, most modular, lowest cost tablet and app-based interactive restaurant ordering solution on the market. Key benefits include; increasing average spend, improved guest loyalty and restaurant analytics
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Its appeal has and continues to catch the imaginations of the public, serving more than 3,000 diners every week across its growing number of locations. The tech used in each restaurant varies, with each providing a different experience for diners. Its Soho restaurant requires guests to touch the table to place orders, whilst in Covent Garden and Camden, a tablet-based version is used. Projection still plays a crucial role in customising the experience, with guests using an infrared ‘clicker’ controller to interact with the various functionalities available. “When we began work on our technology for Imam Soho in 2005 smartphones and tablets had not yet been developed,” explained Hunwick. “The original systems used a Canon projector and a mini-fan less PC in custom units in the ceiling. These communicated via Bluetooth with the touch sensitive panels in the tables through which guests interacted with our interactive ordering systems. “Initially we had to have one projector per table of two guests, whereas now we can have one unit for up to six guests, thus reducing capital costs significantly. “The latest systems are housed in a single Ordamo
“We are constantly working to improve the interactive system and add more features” unit (see column, left) that is mounted in the ceiling above the table surface. We no longer require any customisation of the table, we just use a white table surface that we feel works smoothly with the interactive infra-red clickers that guests use to interact with the projections. The tablets we use are off the shelf Android tablets. Each table in our Covent Garden and Camden restaurants has a tablet, and interactive table surface projections (one unit of which can cover up to six guests). The tablets communicate over a wireless network, and the projection units can be wired or wireless.” No awkward silences The interactive elements, he explained, play a key role in ensuring guests enjoy their experience, removing any potentially awkward silences and help drive
EYE ON LEISURE conversation before, during and after the meal. As a result, the restaurant has become a destination for couples or those on their first date, recently ranked by Match.com as one of the top places for singles. “The tech is a great icebreaker and conversation piece and allows guests to have something fun and diverting whilst they wait for their food to arrive,” said Hunwick. “We are constantly working to improve the interactive system and add more features, but we always knew that in order to keep relevant, the quality of the experience had to be measured as a whole, not only the concept’s edge.” Business benefits The technology also provides Inamo with a number of significant business benefits, both from a financial perspective and on its performance. Diners are able to rate and provide feedback about their experiences and the food and drink consumed whilst still at their table. Feedback, which can be used to measure and/or rectify any issues or grievances diners might have, be it the food, staff related. “The ease in being able to order additional dishes, drinks or an impulsive desert without needing to catch the eye of a passing waiter/waitress, also provides financial benefits, whilst the speed in which they’re able to order, reduces the time spent in the restaurant, allowing for more tables to become available for waiting diners. Food and drink orders are also sent directly to the kitchen, reducing the risk of inaccuracies, lost tickets and delays.
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“We have technology that is on the one hand simple and entertaining (so guests have games to play, or the ability to draw on the table, etc., while you wait for your food to arrive), and on the other is highly functional, making it easier for guests to order what they want when they want it, and for team members in streamlining the processes of ordering. As for the future, Inamo has a few things to help enhance the visiting experience further, including a visible jukebox on tables, but also turning areas at and around the bar into more interactive spaces. “We’ll soon likely have a feature on the tables to see what music is currently playing (and the previous and next tracks) with its artwork, and that could potentially grow into a jukebox function. “We’re also developing the CMS (Content Management System) for the restaurants to make it easier to drop new content into iFrames on the tables - so that guests could have custom video, presentations, or any other web-based content featured on their tables. “We’re developing a major reinvention of the bar space area at our Soho restaurant to feature large wall projections and make it an interactive games room experience and private space. He concluded: “We’ve got to keep progressing with new concepts, both tech and food driven. It’s always got to be the overall experience, people might come initially and a few further times for the concept, but they’ll keep coming back because the food quality and service matches it.”
“The tech is a great icebreaker and allows guests to have something fun and diverting whilst they wait for their food to arrive”
IN FOCUS: LIVE EVENTS
PROJECTING THE RIGHT IMAGE
< Above: TDC – Technical Direction Company – deployed Barco’s UDX-4K32 31,000 lumen, 4K resolution, laser phosphor-illuminated projectors at Vivid Sydney 2017
If you’re charged with delivering an event that will leave a lasting impact on those who attend it, there’s only one AV technology show in town, argues Ian McMurray
here was a time when, whether the event was a user summit, a product launch, a gala dinner, a sales conference or a grand opening, it meant little more than wheeling out the office projector, glitzing up a few PowerPoint slides – and perhaps adding some really whizzy animations or transitions. (And, usually, way too many of them…) Now, the requirement is to create the elusive ‘Wow!’ factor, with AV technology likely to play a vital role in delivering a memorable experience. And: if captivating images are part of the creative vision, then projectors are still likely to be involved – but projectors that are significantly superior to those 350 lumen, SVGA projectors of yore. “The market for projection in live corporate events is continuously growing,” says Lucy
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Meredith, UK product marketing specialist for Panasonic Visual System Solutions. “This is being pushed even further with the progressive move towards high-brightness laser technology, projection mapping and live content generation and tracking technology – allowing for much greater creativity and a far greater impact.” Perfect technology “Projection is the perfect technology to support live corporate events,” notes Thomas Walter, section manager, strategic product marketing at NEC Display Solutions Europe. “It is highly flexible in delivering large, bright images, scalable to achieve the desired impact whilst adapting to the challenges of the infrastructure.” “Corporate live events are a traditional space for projection as it is well suited for it,” believes
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IN FOCUS: LIVE EVENTS
< Lucy Meredith, UK product marketing specialist for Panasonic Visual System Solutions
“We see the market growing into ever more elaborate content and interaction” Curtis Lingard, senior product manager at Christie Digital. “Projection delivers high resolution and high reliability while being fast and easy to install when you have limited time for setup/teardown. Projection also offers flexibility in terms of size options with a simple change of the lens used or the placement of the projector relative to the screen.” “The market for projection in corporate live events is one of our core target areas and one that represents massive growth potential for Epson across Europe,” says Neil Colquhoun, Epson executive director EMEAR, professional displays. “Customers don’t always realise the huge potential and stunning results that projection can deliver.” Both he and Lingard note that the new generation of LED displays have their place and can, in fact, be complementary to projection. More versatile and immersive “Many customers choose LED to overcome the problems of shadows and ambient light,” adds Colquhoun’s colleague Lee Harrison, who is market development manager, professional displays at Epson Europe, “but new advancements in projection, with higher brightness, ultra-short-throw lenses and 3LCD technology mean that this is no longer an issue and, in fact, projection offers a far 28
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more versatile and immersive display.” He has an ally in Mark Wadsworth, international marketing manager at Digital Projection. “We see the market growing into ever more elaborate content and interaction,” he says. “In the past, projection at these type of events would be typically used to display a large presentation or similar, but events are becoming more immersive with companies wanting to tell their story with large panoramas, engage with live streams, or have their corporate ID mapped on their products and so on. While LED walls can satisfy specific requirements, time and power constraints often make this a more suitable option only for the largest events with longer setup times.” Certainly, projection technology has come a long way – not least in that it’s much more reliable: that’s a key consideration in any high profile event. “Projectors are getting brighter and smaller, making setup a lot easier than it was five years ago,” continues Wadsworth. “Also, with the advent of solid-state laser phosphor projectors, there’s no longer the risk of seeing a single Xenon lamp go down half way through a show – meaning far greater peace of mind.” Transformative Certainly, one of the most transformative technologies to have reached projection – and which has almost single-handedly brought a new lease of life to the projector market – has been so-called solid-state illumination. “We’re seeing laser and laser phosphor projectors to the fore with higher brightness, richer colours
< Thomas Walter, section manager, strategic product marketing at NEC Display Solutions Europe
< Curtis Lingard, senior product manager at Christie Digital
< Neil Colquhoun, Epson executive director EMEAR, professional displays
< Above: A project in Israel featuring Epson projectors shows the versatility and creativity possible with projection mapping
IN FOCUS: LIVE EVENTS
> Above: At ISE 2018, visitors were drawn to the Panasonic stand to see what could be achieved by combining imagination with projection
and deeper blacks – creating even more memorable experiences,” says Lingard. “We’re also seeing software tools such as Christie Mystique that helps integrators minimise risk with pre-installation modelling and testing before any hardware is actually installed.” “Laser light sources have made a huge impact on this sector,” agrees Walter. “Long lasting and reliable performance and brightness with limited maintenance helps rental companies to ensure quick and easy install/reinstall whilst delivering the impact their customers demand. Costs relating to lamp exchange, storage and maintenance are vastly reduced.” Well: not quite ‘single-handedly’… Another significant contributor to a renaissance in the projector market has been the availability of short throw and ultra-short throw lenses, as Harrison noted earlier – meaning far greater flexibility in projector placement. “We have seen an uplift in the use of projectors that are capable of quality projection at a short distance,” says Meredith. “The small shift and zoom range of such lenses increases flexibility, making for easier planning and installation.” Rapid expansion And then there’s resolution and brightness. “Over the past few years we’ve seen a rapid expansion in 4K and 10,000+ lumen projectors that make it much easier and more affordable for event organisers to see their vision executed accurately,”
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explains Rob Meakin, European product manager at Sony Professional Solutions Europe. But when it comes to creating the truly spectacular, the projection technology that has perhaps done more than any other to revolutionise what’s possible is mapping – the ability to display images on real world objects, such as cars or building facades. Meredith again. “Projection mapping is often allied with live content generation and tracking technology,” she says, “This has allowed for much greater creativity and a far greater impact, creating endless opportunities for guest engagement.” Anyone who was in downtown Amsterdam during ISE 2018 would agree that projection mapping really is something special: the World Masters of Projection Mapping competition saw fantastic images being delivered onto the iconic EYE Filmmuseum. On the company’s stand at the RAI, Panasonic created a must-see projection mapping show by combining visual art performers, laser projection technology, 3D mapping and tracking – the latter by Blacktrax. At the previous year’s show, Epson deployed 14 laser installation projectors to map onto an F1 car mounted on the wall. Patterned projection windows encircled the car, filled with linked narratives, one of which followed the car, moving from the grid onto an F1 circuit, before transforming into bursts of vibrant colours, shapes and effects. Remarkably, set-up is said to have taken just 36 hours.
IN FOCUS: LIVE EVENTS Creative and memorable It’s not, however, just about illuminating buildings or showing off at trade shows. “Some of the more creative and memorable events I’ve been involved with have used projection mapping across the entire interior of the venue to transform the location into a completely new environment and transport the audience to a whole new immersive world,” enthuses Lingard. Almost as important as developments in projection mapping, and no less crucial in many scenarios where the requirement is to deliver impressive images, has been edge blending. “The most imaginative uses of projection I usually see at corporate events involve multiple projectors and edge blending,” recalls Meakin. “It’s possible to blend multiple projectors to create one super high resolution, super-size image that will ensure crystal clear image quality.” One of the applications that edge blending particularly lends itself to is the creation of surround sound – but in visual form. “We have seen fully immersive domes being deployed for corporate events, as well as 180 or even 360 degree panoramas,” says Wadsworth. “These things can sometimes be taken for granted in the pro AV world as they have been seen a hundred times before – but for guests who aren’t in this industry, they can be truly awe-inspiring.” Raising the bar Projection has, then, come a long way in recent years, continuing to raise the bar in terms of its ability to deliver the truly astonishing – which is what many corporate events organisers are surely looking for. What, though, does an organiser need to do to ensure that that potential is fully leveraged? “An assessment of the context and objectives of the event is the first step,” says NEC’s Walter. “The size of the venue, viewing distance, lighting conditions and infrastructure are all critical factors alongside the strategic objectives of the event. If the presentation is to be projected onto a screen, should it be front or rear projection? This will depend on the space and infrastructure available.” That analysis will likely to transpire to more practical considerations. “Organisers need to look at the size of the projection areas and the space available to house the projector, the brightness required and the throw distances required,” states Panasonic’s Meredith. “If it is a day time event with lots of daylight, organisers will require either a very bright projector, teamed with an appropriate ambient light-rejecting screen, or to consider another solution,” adds
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< Lee Harrison, market development manager, professional displays at Epson Europe
< Mark Wadsworth, international marketing manager at Digital Projection
< Rob Meakin, European product manager at Sony Professional Solutions Europe
“It’s important that corporate customers work closely with integrators and rental companies to develop a solution that is right for them”
Digital Projection’s Wadsworth. “They should also check what power is available; a lot of the high end projectors only operate with 3-phase electricity. Not checking the plug or available power before the event could be a showstopper. Luckily, this is becoming less of an issue now as projectors are getting brighter and brighter and can be run from a normal mains connection.” As Wadsworth implies: the devil is often in the detail. Sony’s Meakin echoes those sentiments. “Ensure the correct inputs and cables are all available on the day,” he says. “When AV ‘goes wrong’, it’s never the projector that has malfunctioned. It’s the cable – or lack thereof; the resolution of the content; or even the output device – the PC or video and so on.” Maximising the benefit The foregoing are just some of the basics. But what about truly maximising the benefit of today’s projection technology? The industry is agreed on the appropriate course of action. “It’s important that corporate customers work closely with integrators and rental companies to develop a solution that is right for them and that they are happy with,” recommends Meredith. “Utilise their knowledge and experience to best advise you on what the best solution to make the most out of your corporate live event.” “Decide what you want, and then call in the visual display technology experts to make your vision a reality,” echoes Lingard. “Their industry knowledge, experience, and advice is invaluable. Most importantly, organisers should clearly understand what they want to show and what impact they want from the visuals. This will allow suppliers to ensure they deliver the desired experience, and not just equipment.” Huge impact The last word goes to Epson’s Colquhoun. “AV, and especially projection, can make a huge impact,” he smiles. “A fully immersive and highly visual experience can make the difference between a returning customer at an event experience or a delegate at a presentation. Certainly, the regular feedback we’ve had from customers is that the excitement created by an event has more than paid for their investment in it.” And if ROI is the key, as it so often is, that’s a pretty ringing endorsement. With so many creative possibilities, and so much expertise available to turn a presentation into a memorable spectacular, there is, it seems, no longer any excuse for death by PowerPoint. 31
IN FOCUS: TOP TIPS
SURVIVING IN THE WORLD OF LIVE SOUND
James Allen, senior sales development rep for Shure, has survived 10 years on the road in roles including systems, RF, and FOH/monitor tech for artists like Madonna, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga. He offers invaluable advice on ensuring live events run smoothly
> James Allen
SUMMER IS UPON us, and with it the possibility of special events, ranging from company picnics and church events to outdoor holiday celebrations and music festivals. Inevitably, that means live sound reinforcement outside the controlled environment of corporate AV. Audio for live events may be outside the comfort zone of some AV professionals. Fortunately, the same knowledge and expertise you apply to your daily corporate gig makes you well equipped to survive and thrive in the world of live sound.
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Advancing the event: In the world of touring, I learned that the best way to avoid problems when rolling into a new venue is to have everything arranged and agreed upon well in advance. That process involves talking to every vendor and performer, determining their audio needs, and arranging for those needs to be accommodated. You’ll need a budget, a timeline, and everyone’s contact info, starting with the promoter and venue. Call them and learn all you can: size of the space
IN FOCUS: TOP TIPS
Left > Outdoor concert at the Peterborough Musicfest in Ontario, Canada Masterfile/Rommel
and expected attendance, whether the PA system will be flown or ground-stacked, and what type of power is provided. Contact all performers and request their input lists and stage plots. Find out if they carry wireless and get the details so you can coordinate frequencies. The artist rider informs your staging and PA needs, including how many inputs need to be accommodated. If possible, do an on-site inspection in advance. You’ll want to eyeball where the speakers will go and where the mix positions are, especially in temporary outdoor venues. Bring a spectrum analyser to learn the local wireless landscape. Use a laser disto to confirm distances.
Best practices (technology): Live sound is very digital these days, and with good reason. Audio networking: Many local sound companies have networkable systems, which can save a lot of time and reduce cabling. Also, most digital consoles offer offline software that allows advance programming of channel assignments, levels, and DSP. This can really streamline set-up and set changes. Wireless: Be aware of and follow any legal requirements, including licensing and frequency restrictions. Use frequency coordination software to ensure everything will work together. Use war-gaming to test the system. Before the event, physically walk the performance area with transmitters to identify and correct any dead spots. Be aware of interference sources, and make sure that any systems not in use are powered down. Volume: Be sure to determine what the client is looking for. It’s also important to know and obey any local noise ordinances. Always keep a calibrated SPL meter fired up at FOH.
Redundancy for all! Live events are problematic due to their real-time nature. A second take and fixing things in postproduction are not possible. So what’s the best way to avoid disaster? Having back-ups for everything. Many consoles support multiple power supplies and dual Dante networked audio paths. Use them! Uninterruptible power supplies, spare copper snakes and Cat5/Cat6 cables should also be on hand.
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Tools: Combining equipment from rental sound, multiple bands, and perhaps your own gear inevitably results in random problems. Your best defence is to assemble a tool kit. A good starting point includes a quality multi-tool, flashlight (or my preference, a headlamp), and sharpie markers. In addition to common tools, here are some problem solvers in my workbox: Adapters: XLR and 6.35mm turnarounds, couplers, 6.35mm to XLR, isolation transformers, ground lift, and y-split cables Meters: Spectrum Analyser, SPL meter, laser disto, digital multi-meter for electrical Also: PVC and Gaffer’s tape, cable tester, soldering kit, spare batteries, headphones... You get the idea.
Weather conditions: The great outdoors are a constant source of…weather. Rain, wind, and sun all bring problems. Anything loose should be taped down against wind. Any gear left outside overnight must be covered. To protect electronics, invest in some 6-mil clear plastic sheeting, available in 100-foot rolls at any building supply warehouse (most common brand name is Visqueen). Cut to size and cover everything important, then drape the plastic over the side. If bad weather hits, just pull it back over the gear and you’re protected. Direct sunlight can also be an issue. Digital consoles and amplifiers get extremely hot in direct sun, so try to provide shade and plenty of ventilation. Consider a tent or canopy (sufficiently weighted against the wind!) for the FOH and other production areas.
Be professional: Dress appropriately, don’t drink alcohol while working, and when something goes wrong, don’t panic! Trust me, doing these things pays dividends! Professionalism also means taking care of yourself. Bring hydration and snacks. Wear sturdy yet comfy footwear. Use hearing protection. Keep your phone charged, and bring sunscreen. Every little thing counts. This article is really about being prepared. Advance the event, know what to expect, and be ready. On site, get to know the production manager and the other trades (lighting, staging, video) you’ll be working with, plus the contacts for each artist. You’re all in this together. Cooperation and communication go a long way toward making live events successful. www.shure.com 33
IN FOCUS: TOP TIPS
THE SECRET TO A SUCCESFUL INDOOR EVENT In a world filled with digital interactions and immersive experiences, AV is more important than ever when it comes to delivering a successful event
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IN FOCUS: TOP TIPS WITH AUDIENCES WHO use more of their senses to engage at events more likely to remember them, it’s no wonder that event organisers are choosing to bring their messages to life through lighting, sound and visuals. Hawthorn is an award-winning creative technical event production company offering a comprehensive suite of services, including creative design, production, lighting, audio, video, staging, power distribution and rigging services. Working with long-term clients, Hawthorn is known for producing impressive events that connect technology with creativity. With over a decade of live event experience, Hawthorn Group’s head of video David Barton shares his top tips for AV professionals looking to guarantee success at their next gig.
Know your venue Every venue is different and each one comes with its own unique set of challenges. Get rid of any unexpected issues by finding out as much information as possible early on in the planning process. Make the extra effort Are there any load-in/out restrictions? What’s the weight rating of the roof? Are there any issues with sightlines or ambient lighting? Whilst a site recce does take up time, it’s hugely valuable and something I’d always recommend. Solely looking at the schematics of a venue just doesn’t provide the explicit knowledge that comes from actually setting foot in the location.
Communication is key Any live event, whether a conference, gala dinner or awards ceremony, requires a huge amount of pre-planning and direct communication between departments is vital. You don’t want to be in a position where lighting, sound and video plans come together and you have different equipment sitting in the same place or you find out you have a row of moving lights placed in-between the projector and the screen. It’s not just the pre-planning stage where communication is key. Clear communication during the show itself is equally as important. All technicians that have input and timing responsibilities throughout the show must be in complete communication with the stage manager or show caller at all times.
> Left: Adobe Summit. 2017 keynote
> Right: David Barton, head of video, Hawthorn Group
playback to choosing between projectors or LED screens, you need to work closely with your client to ensure that the equipment your supplying works for their content.
Leave enough time Always allow a good amount of time to set up. This might sound like a simple one but it’s all too often forgotten in the world of live events. When you’re dealing with large amounts of technical equipment, issues can crop up and it’s far better to be finished early and ready to go rather than having to fix last minute niggles when the guests are walking into the venue. That said, no matter how well prepared you are, things can go wrong and you always need to be prepared to react to issues in real time. Always have a contingency plan on hand to deal with any number of technical problems that may arise during the event.
Keep your finger on the pulse In the ever-changing world of live events, you can never become complacent and to stay ahead of the curve, you need to look to the future. Make sure you’re clued up not only on the latest technology releases but also any trends that look like they’re going to take the event industry by storm. Don’t worry about trying to dig out your crystal ball – trade press, social media and tradeshows are great ways to make sure you – and your clients – can take advantage of any new opportunities.
Content is king We’ve all heard the old adage that content is king but this is one cliché that I find myself referring to over and over again. You can have the best technical team and the latest AV equipment but if the content isn’t up to scratch then there’s simply no point. From picking the right media servers and
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IN FOCUS: LIVE EVENTS
TAKE YOUR EVENT TO NEW HEIGHTS Drone LED light shows are transforming the live event experience – we spoke to Markus Waibel, CEO of leading provider Verity Studios, to learn more
f you’re looking to create something truly deserving of the words ‘wow’ and ‘factor’ for your next live event, you might want to consider the possibilities provided by drones. The market for drones (outside of a military setting) for personal and commercial use has exploded in recent years with sales forecasts predicting sales of nearly 30 million units by 2021. One of the>fastest growth areas is in the commercial space Above: Xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx (170,000 sales in 2017, up from 110,000 in 2016*) and the use of dronesxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for LED ‘drone shows’ has become big xxxxxxxxxxxxxx business and widely adopted in the entertainment industry. Recent high profile examples include the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in PyeongChang, at which Intel
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performed a choreographed light display using 1,218 drones to create various animations, including the Olympic rings. Drones were also used to promote the release of Wonder Woman on DVD, lighting up the LA sky with various related imagery associates with the film. But it’s not just large open outdoor spaces where drone shows are taking place, with musicians, theatre productions and even airports using drones to wow visitors with a barely believable performance more akin to special FX in a science fiction movie than reality. To learn more, AVTE spoke to Markus Waibel, co-founder and the CEO of Verity Studios – one of the world’s leading providers of indoor drone shows – whose work has been
> Above: Markus Waibel, co-founder and CEO of Verity Studios
“Hundreds of drones are now used in permanent installations and touring shows, including cruise ships, corporate events and conventions, tours and theatre”
“We are entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, live events professionals, mathematicians, and designers who believe that drones fundamentally transform the live events experience” May/June 2018
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seen by audiences across the world. Hi Markus. Tell me a little about the company Verity brings robotics and AI to live events. It is a high-tech, VC-backed startup company. Its current team has around 40 people, including nine PhDs and more than a dozen Masters’ graduates from top universities including MIT, the University of Toronto, EPFL, Imperial College London, and ETH Zurich as well as former employees of GE Aviation, Cirque du Soleil, Samsung, HP, and Apple, with decades of work experience with autonomous unmanned aerial systems and mobile robots. It’s an unusual company in this market. Talk us through the services you provide.
LUCIE MICRO DRONES Weight: <50g (<2oz) Flight time: up to 4 minutes Charging time: approximately 1 hour Equipped with high–intensity, programmable RGB lights
STAGE FLYER DRONES Weight (without costume): 1kg (2.2lbs) Flight time: up to 5 minutes Charging time: approximately 1 hour Equipped with multiple high–intensity lights
IN FOCUS: LIVE EVENTS Today Verity is the world’s leading provider of indoor drone shows. These drones are tiny, which means that you can have a dozen of them swirl around a singer on stage or have a swarm of them fly out over your audience. Verity works with venues to install its system. Verity also works directly with show creators, from the creative concept phase all the way to show operation. Once the show package has been decided on, we will then travel to the client’s site to help set up the show and make sure everything is working perfectly. If desired, Verity provides show operators, but usually trains event staff directly – the drones are self-piloting and the system is easy to use. We are then on-hand to support with any issues the client may encounter. What’s your target market(s)? Verity’s clients have completed more than 25,000 drone flights to date. The drones have performed in more than 15 countries around the world. Hundreds of drones are now used in permanent installations and touring shows, including cruise ships, corporate events and conventions, tours, and theatre. Clients include production companies, show creators and the venues themselves. Why would a company/organisation consider using drones for an event? Indoor drones are brand new and the creative potential is vast. For venues, a resident drone show system is all about providing a key differentiator. For creatives, the appeal is providing a completely new, magical experience to audiences. Verity’s team has had fun working with clients in many markets to explore this new medium. Metallica is currently touring with a swarm of micro drones as is Switzerland’s national circus, where they replace the elephants – as you can imagine, the target audience and creative are quite different. Playing with the intimacy and tension created by the presence of even a single flying light on stage opens the door to many creative uses. Talk us through some examples of your work There are many. For example, cruise operators have found that Verity’s drones are a great match for their requirements to reliably create a visually stunning effect, even in smaller spaces, and two cruise lines have integrated drone shows into their ships and are running bi-weekly shows. Conferences and conventions have also found many creative use cases for drones: Since their debut at the TED conference in 2016, Verity’s drones have performed at high-profile corporate 38
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events in some of the world’s most prestigious venues such as the National Centre of Performing Arts in Beijing or the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Touring shows are another proven market for Verity’s drones. For example, Metallica is currently on tour with a swarm of 99 of Verity’s Lucie micro drones. Verity drones also perform ahead of each Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. In a theatrical setting, Cirque du Soleil operated Verity’s larger Stage Flyer drones on Broadway for a year throughout 400 shows and more than 7,000 autonomous flights, flying above performers on stage in front of up to 2,000 people per night, without safety nets. On that note, how safe are they? Each Stage Flyer show drone is fully redundant – it is capable of continuing operation in spite of a failed battery, a failed motor, a failed connector, a failed propeller, a failed sensor, or a failure of any other component. This is achieved through the duplication of critical components and the use of proprietary algorithms, which enable safe emergency responses to component failures. Last Christmas, a Verity drone swarm performed for more than 100 shows inside a major airport, which speaks volumes. What about costs? The cost really depends on the individual setup. It’s influenced by the size of the flight space, the number of drones, the duration of the show, and creative requirements. Pricing starts at €70,000/$90,000.
> Above: Drones are now used as part of the performance for Cirque du Soleil
“Last Christmas, a Verity drone swarm performed for more than 100 shows inside a major airport”
In association with
EYE ON RECRUITMENT A selection of the latest movers and shakers from across the AV industry, plus some top tips from leading AV recruitment firm, JacobsMassey
Imperial War Museum AV Technician What attracted you to the position? The job had similarities to those I enjoyed in a previous role. These include research support and project management along with development beyond service delivery and maintenance. AV is at the core of the Museum’s strengths rather than a support service. It’s present in the construction of a narrative throughout the exhibition space to create an interactive immersive experience. What will your main responsibilities be in your new position? Of course, the continued dedicated SLA and maintenance routines assuring the AV infrastructures are kept in good running order, but also to support procurement towards development and expansion of delivery and project management. What trends and changes have you seen in the AV industry over the past five years? The development of digital over analogue in IP supported infrastructures, in cloud computing services and delivery. AV is becoming less cluttered and more customisable for both public and private spaces. What’s the best thing about being part of the AV industry? I see AV as part of communication as a support structure and service. Even in its most decorative form a light design on a set or stage conveys moods and sets the context for a message. Communication is an important aspect for me not only as part of it but also in the way it mirrors our social development as humans. The fact today we can easily have a grasp of telepresence through collaboration rooms over the internet when this was science fiction decades ago means we have evolved and it shows our concerns with displacement and reach within our individual and global spheres. It’s interesting.
Lee Denton, RGB Communications RGB has named Lee Denton as business development manager (Atlona). Denton, recently at Epson in the Pro Displays team, will look to build on the success of RGB and Atlona in the commercial marketplaces.
Insight from JacobsMassey MD, Graeme Massey With summer just around the corner we have seen one of our busiest periods on record. A marked increase in successful permanent hires by AV companies and a significant number of end users. An interesting trend to cite is the increasing demand for AV skills incorporating broadcast experience. In short, enabling stakeholders and interested parties to access uninterrupted live broadcasts. This trend also extends to the freelance and contract worlds where live events are becoming increasingly sophisticated. AV Technicians are now supported by a camera crew, editors and even show callers. The AV market is certainly developing and that’s reflected by the ever-changing skills sought by employers.
Share your recruitment movers and shakers with AV Technology Europe If you have recently made a new appointment and would like he or she to be featured in our ‘Eye on Recruitment’ page, please email our editor Michael Garwood: email@example.com
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EYE ON RECRUITMENT
Daniel Brooks AVTE speaks to former Naval officer, 28-year-old Daniel Brooks who recently began his AV career working as project manager for Hewshott International
Hi Dan. When did you join Hewshott and what are your responsibilities? I joined Hewshott the beginning of May this year – as a project manager. I am new to the role, so currently my main responsibility is supporting the rest of the team on existing projects for clients in various sectors such as corporate and higher education, but also very much learning on the job. How are you finding it so far? I love the change of pace. I am already very busy, which keeps me happy. Everyone I’ve met so far has been very happy to have me on board and have been incredibly supportive. I am learning by doing, which I have always found to be the best method for me. Why have you chosen a career in AV? AV as an industry has great appeal to me. I have always been fascinated by the latest technology, and already I have seen that there is a real potential for a significant ‘wow’ factor within the work we are doing. However, it is only upon starting that I have discovered that there also seems to be a thriving, positive community behind it as well, which is quite some bonus! What was it about the role that made you apply? I could tell straight away this was a position I would enjoy. It’s my first role as a project manager, and there is no better place to learn the ropes than a small team with nowhere to
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hide. This provides me with great opportunities to both work hard and learn quickly and is also proving to be both enjoyable and rewarding. Was AV something you were interested in growing up? When I was growing up I had always wanted to join the military – originally the RAF – and ended up joining the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer upon leaving university. I left the Royal Navy in August 2016, after complications at home helped me to decide that a life at sea was not for me. Did you require any specific qualifications for your new role? The only relevant qualification I currently have is a Prince2 Foundation Certification, which I studied for during my previous role. Otherwise, I believe that my selection for the role was based primarily on my past experience and the associated transferable skills and behaviours. I am fresh to both project management and the AV industry, but I hope to have tempered this by having worked as a project Administrator at the National Physical Laboratory for the last year and a half to build up some project related experience. What’s your ambition going forward? My ambition for the foreseeable future is simply to become a successful project manager, learning and developing through my role with Hewshott. I am already really enjoying my time with the team, and it should certainly keep me busy enough for the next few years.
THE TECH GUIDE
A SELECTION OF THE LATEST AV PRODUCTS AND SERVICES NOW AVAILABLE Audio-Technica
3000 Series Product type: Wireless systems Target market: Permanent audio installation and touring What’s new? The fourth generation of AudioTechnica’s 3000 Series wireless systems now offers interchangeable capsules and twice the frequency range of its predecessor Atlona
OmniStream Product type: AV over IP distribution platform Target market: Corporate, education and live event venues What’s new? Atlona has added a USB over IP product line to OmniStream for versatile, costeffective signal extension and distribution. The new OmniStream 311 (AT-OMNI-311) and OmniStream 324 (AT-OMNI-324) can be used standalone or as part of the company’s complete All-IP Meeting Space solution. In either capacity, the 311 and 324 offer scalability and reliability for medium-to-large commercial AV systems.
Details: With a 60MHz tuning range, the new 3000 Series systems are available in four frequency bands – DE2 (470–530 MHz), EE1 (530–590 MHz), EF1 (590–650 MHz) and FG1 (650–700 MHz). Frequencies can be easily scanned and selected on the receiver and then synced with the transmitter via IR sync functionality. Available system configurations feature an ATW-R3210 receiver along with an ATW-T3201 body-pack or ATW-T3202 handheld transmitter. The ATW-T3202 comes with either an ATW-C510 dynamic or ATW-C710 condenser interchangeable cardioid capsule, and its industry-standard thread allows for the use of Audio-Technica and other compatible capsules. Available: Spring/summer 2018 Where can I buy? Visit https://eu.audio-technica. com/buy for details Price: TBC
Details: Both USB over IP products work in tandem to seamlessly integrate within a wide variety of system design scenarios for soft codec conferencing and remote keyboard/mouse control, and are ideal for networked signal extension and distribution in huddle rooms and meeting rooms. Available: Now Where can I buy? Atlona partners worldwide Price: POA
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AM-300 Product type: Wireless presentation system Target market: Education, corporate, meeting spaces and huddle spaces
Pro Series Capacitive Touch Product type: Touchscreen Target market: Enterprise, further and higher education What’s new? The only large format touch screen on the market that is secure, has the ability to sit off the network and will connect to any device. It is claimed to be the most accurate, responsive, and cost-effective touch screen technology available, mirroring the smoothness of a smartphone or tablet on a large interactive flat panel. Details: True-Bonded Capacitive Touch has achieved the accuracy and responsiveness of smartphones and tablets on large displays by removing the air gaps between the layers of the screen and touch interface. True-Bonded Capacitive Touch has achieved leading responsiveness at <15ms, and accuracy with just 1mm tolerance, all with no time lag. The pressure-sensitive touch properties will respond to finger touch or your capacitive pen, preventing accidental annotations. With no bezel, the screens are both thinner and lighter than other display touch screen, according to Clevertouch. The open platform design guarantees that any device, on any platform (be it Apple, Google, or Microsoft), can connect and take advantage of the capacitive touch technology.
What’s new? The Crestron AirMedia Wireless Presentation Gateway was a ground breaking solution that set the industry standard for enterprise-wireless presentation, according to the company. Featuring AirMedia 2.0 technology, the fastest, easiest, most manageable, and secure wireless presentation solution. AM-300 also offers a DM input, HDMI in and out, LAN port for power and communications, and full display control. Details: AirMedia 2.0 offers the lowest latency for optimal network efficiency, the lowest bandwidth consumption so keyboard and mouse movements track in real-time, ultra smooth video playback, on-screen display with connectivity instructions, room availability, and meeting details when connected to a calendaring platform mirroring with Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. While other products provide just a wireless access point, exposing confidential content to potential security breaches, AirMedia 2.0 is a network-based wireless presentation technology that leverages the latest security protocols: 802.1x network access control; Active Directory user authentication; AES-128 content encryption; and SSH, SSL, TLS, and HTTPS. Available: June 2018 Where can I buy? Crestron approved dealers Price: £2,500
Available: Now Where can I buy? www.clevertouch.com Price: POA May/June 2018
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ZH420UST Product type: High brightness ultra short throw laser projector Target market: Retail, digital signage, leisure and hospitality, attractions and museums.
Spotlight Product type: Presentation remote Target market: Education, entrepreneurs What’s new? The next level up from a laser pointer, Spotlight allows you to highlight, magnify and circle parts of a presentation digitally. It can be used as an on-screen cursor to play video, open links and engage with other embedded content, giving presentations that extra layer of polish. Details: Spotlight is designed to make presentations more engaging, allowing a presenter to digitally interact with their slides and make their presentation come to life. Timed milestones can also be set within the remote’s app to send vibration reminders to keep the presenter on track, and has an operating range of up to 100ft. The remote has universal compatibility with Windows and Mac, and can be used with applications such as PowerPoint, Keynote and Google Slides. The rechargeable battery lasts up to three months, and a minute recharging provides three hours of use. The remote is available in three finishes, coming in either gold, slate or silver.
What’s new? Said to be the most compact ultra short throw laser projector on the market with an in-built edge blending and warping processor and HDBaseT. Details: A 4,000-lumen ultra short throw projector, the ZH420UST is powered by a DuraCore laser light source, which means there are no lamps to replace and therefore maintenance requirements are minimal. It offers advanced installation features including HDBaseT, four corner correction and a built-in edge blending and warping processor - ideal for leisure and hospitality venues. Weighing 5.5kg, this projector can be mounted centimetres away from a wall or surface and can project an image size of over 100 inches. Equipped with 114 per cent Rec709 colour gamut coverage, it delivers accurate colours to produce eye-catching content and bright, lifelike images. It can project downwards and sideways in ‘portrait mode’. This means the projector can be operated on its side, to produce a tall, thin image - perfect for retail digital signage applications. Available: Now Where can I buy? Optoma Europe Price: £3,499.99 ex VAT, £4,199.99 inc VAT
Available: Now Where can I buy? www.logitech.com Price: £119.99
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vSolution MATRIX Product type: Collaboration and wireless presentation solution Target market: Higher education active learning classrooms What’s new? Cost effective, simple setup, easy to use, collaboration system using multiple Cynap and Cynap Core systems Tripleplay
TripleSign Product type: Digital signage user interface Target market: Banking and enterprise, legal, education, government, retail, sports and arena What’s new? Brand new user interface, with enhanced monitoring features and inclusion of support for Samsung SSP v5, LG webOS, BrightSign Media Players and AVNU PF range with BrightSign built-in. Details: Tripleplay’s Caveman platform release includes supported for a wide variety of new devices, enhancing opportunities for the installer and for the end user. With the addition of the BrightSign, LG webOS and latest Samsung SSP, Tripleplay supports HEVC, H.265 and 4K across four device types. Caveman also beings enhanced monitoring through the TripleView solution, a dashboard software that enables centralised viewing of disparate Tripleplay servers.
Details: vSolution MATRIX represents a step forward in learning space design, enabling intuitive control, distribution, and sharing of video and audio between multiple workstation monitors using multiple Cynap, and Cynap Core units connected using network infrastructure. Whereas traditional video over IP deployments required the purchase and installation of dedicated encoders and decoders, vSolution Matrix routes high quality/low-latency video streams directly between WolfVision’s Cynap devices over a local-area-network. Video matrix distribution is now possible by networking Cynap-powered workstations together. Other advancements include simple drag-and-drop routing control, live multistream previewing, temporary stream-layering over local content, and remote file-sharing/presentation over IP. Wireless BYOD screen sharing for all smartphones, tablets, and laptops, is available at every workstation, with no need for apps, dongles or additional software. Available: Now Where can I buy? www.wolfvision.com Price: POA
Available: Now Where can I buy?: Through authorised resellers, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.tripleplay.tv, or call on 0845 094 3326. Price: On request
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Recognising excellence across the entire pro-AV industry Thursday 28th June 2018 Millennium Gloucester, London
BOOK YOUR TABLES TODAY: www.installawards.com Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Contact us today to get involved: Gurpreet Purewal | email@example.com Red carpet sponsor
InstallAwards 2018 Book Tables ad 210x265mm.indd 1
EYE ON DIVERSITY
SHINING A LIGHT ON DIVERSITY IN AV A The subject of gender diversity in the tech industry is one that prompts an interesting and often contentious discussion. Some show great passion and desire for change, whilst some immediately scoff at the subject, all but dismissing its importance. Some just prefer to steer clear all together.
egardless where you sit on the subject, the statistics in the tech industry highlight a significant imbalance, with just 17 per cent of employees working in the UK tech industry being female. Whilst specific figures for the AV industry do not appear to exist – at least publicly – the general perception from those we spoke with on the subject (end users, PR, distribution, tech press and manufacturers) suggest it to be broadly consistent. Some suggest the figure is much lower.
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“I have been in the AV industry for about 18 years and I have always found the industry to be very male dominated,” Petra Van Meeuwen, marketing manager at Crestron EMEA told AVTE. “Most female roles seem to be in the back office; such as admin, marketing or PR. But when it comes to the customer facing roles; sales, technical, decision-making, you’re more often than not confronted with men.” Sadie Groom, founder and the managing director of media tech PR and marketing agency Bubble Communications
EYE ON DIVERSITY
n Right: ‘Booth babes’ used at tradeshows create a negative image towards women n Above: Megan Dutta and Tanya Houston
Forty per cent of today’s global workforce are female yet just five per cent of global CEO positions are held by women. Beyond this, only 14.2 per cent of the top five leadership positions in S&P 500 companies are represented by females, according to a recent CNNMoney analysis. Source: PwC confesses that in her 22-plus years of being a part of the industry, she can’t remember “ever seeing a female AV tech.” Diversity on show A case-in-point, whilst not representative of the entire AV industry, are figures from the recent ISE 2018 trade show in Amsterdam, which showed just 11 per cent of the 80,000-plus attendees were female. These were consistent year-on-year. The gender gap is something ISE’s MD Mike Blackman is keen to address, describing diversity as “a key issue” and one it wants to help the industry (current and future generations) to address using ISE as a position of influence working closely with its partners. He insists however, whilst the figure remains concerningly low, positive signs are there. “Five years ago that figure was closer to five per cent,” said Blackman, who plans to further ramp up ISE’s drive to help and support students interested in AV at next year’s show. “We’ve had a massive improvement, but it’s still 11 per cent, which is still not a huge amount. We’re aiming to help address this where we can.” Tanya Houston, co-founder of tech PR agency Wildwood PR, has worked closely with the AV industry since 2003 and a regular at all major AV trade shows. She backed Blackman’s comments, agreeing things have 48
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improved in recent years and is seeing more females enter the space and taking top roles. However, she believes the subject is one, which must be taken more seriously by the industry as a collective, to ensure recent progress isn’t wasted. “You just have to flick through the pages of any of the industry magazines – or attend any industry event for the gender-bias to be clear; and, in general, they are a true reflection of our industry,” said Houston. “At first glance you may feel AV is a lost cause, but the reality is that things are moving in the right direction. Whilst there is no ignoring the fact that the industry is very male dominated, we have seen a significant growth in the number of women working in AV over these years – and in a variety of roles.” So why does the gap exist at all? According to those we spoke with (many requested not to be named or quoted) the perception is that AV is (incorrectly) an industry suited for males. “It’s not only perceived this way – it’s the reality,” argues Megan Dutta, co-founder of US-based group Women of Digital Signage. “It’s not just in AV, but in tech across the board.” Van Meeuwen agreed: “When it comes to the decisionmaking jobs, I see more men than women. It’s the reality.” There are many suggested reasons why this is the case.
EYE ON DIVERSITY
TIME FOR WOMEN TO MAN UP AND USE THEIR NATURAL ASSETS
Education One of the more consistent reasons given for the disparity, lands at the feet of, not with the industry itself, but at school level. Many we spoke with – both on and off the record – suggest a career in AV (in all its various guises) is simply not one encouraged towards young women during their years in determining what it is they want to do for a career. (Some argue it’s not encouraged at all, with many – both males and females – claiming to have fallen into the industry rather than pursuing it (see interview, page 52). With the industry now evolving and incorporating numerous technologies – thus creating new roles (including IT) –working in the AV industry can be hugely varied and rarely stagnated. Coupled with the fact entry-level positions often (not always) requiring minimal qualifications and/or experience, the opportunities are extremely vast for young people. However, a blockage still remains: “Women just don’t seem to feel enamoured to be involved in this business – certainly not on the technical side,” said Blackman. “That needs to change. It needs to be made clear that there are equal career opportunities [in the AV industry] and there are ways to move forward. Strength is not a key asset in AV. Awareness is something that needs to start at school level, learning about the opportunities and providing the information for people to say ‘that’s a direction they want to go in.’” Old school values He continued: “When I went to school, the girls learned how to type and things like that as part of the curriculum. As boys, we didn’t. So they were driven and guided towards more administrative and secretarial jobs. Yes, things may have changed, but I believe if they start at a young age and are shown technical jobs as a route for them, then their interest can peak very early.” Dutta agreed, adding the AV industry must also share the desire to want to change rather than just paying it lip service. “In today’s world, I believe the problem originates with attracting girls to STEM. But, as girls turn into women, there are many, many other factors at play. For example, we need to ensure females are not only sat at the proverbial table, but that they are welcomed and wanted. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the same is true for people of colour. The number of women and people of colour in leadership positions are
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Many women are failing to achieve their ambitions at work due to a lack of confidence and self-belief when compared to to their male colleagues. This is the view of Sadie Groom, who told AVTE that she believed many women are letting themselves down by not being brave enough or outright refusing to take opportunities at work to help them move forward and stand out. “Women have a gremlin inside of them,” says Groom. “We say sorry all the time and we don’t put ourselves forward enough. I know so many women who are asked to speak at events and respond with ‘no no they couldn’t possibly do that’, whereas men are more likely to say they don’t want to, but they will do it anyway. Women just need to put their hands up for these roles or believe in their ability that they can do these things. She added: “There is a statistic that around 80 per cent of men walk out of a job interview thinking they’ve got it, whilst only 20 per cent of women would walk out thinking the same. That attitude needs to change.” Not made equal Groom is also a strong believer in a more gender equal workforce, and that women possess natural skills that males do not, which makes them a major asset to any company. “Men and women are not the same,” she explained. “I very much believe we need to push our skills as women. We have more compassion, more empathy and better organisation. These are skills that we bring to a company.” She concluded: “I 100 per cent agree that the best person should always get the job – whether they’re male or female. But wouldn’t it be great if you were getting 16 applications for a job, and a third of them were female?”
staggeringly low, and even lower in the tech sector. We need to lift as we climb.” Houston added that education is only one part of a very complex algorithm to addressing the situation, suggesting that working with technical colleges and universities to highlight and promote potential careers in AV is a way forward. “The answer is a complicated mix of cultural, environmental, and personal factors,” she explained. “Some are caused by women making conscious decisions about what they want to do with their lives, often in childhood. There are statistics out there that show how views are formed at an early stage on the type of career paths open to genders.” Groom joked: “We all end up in jobs because we’re told we are good at something or that we are suited to doing something. I remember being told by my career advisor I should be a chef, which is ridiculous, as I can’t cook.”
“I was looking around for other senior women to have as a role model, but I couldn’t see or find any” > Above: Women are being encouraged to make themselves seen and heard at AV events, such as ISE (above)
Industry efforts The industry is making conscious efforts to address the gender gap. Many manufacturers are said to be active in their local communities, encouraging students/graduates to pursue a career in AV through apprenticeship schemes and internships. Groups such as the AVIXA Women’s Council, Women of Digital Signage and Women In AV (WAVE) have been set up to actively address and encourage a career in AV for women, but also to provide support to help them excel within it. “Things have certainly improved since I began my career in the AV industry over a decade ago,” said Dutta. “Groups like these allow women to gather, network, and create mentorship programmes for young women.” (See interview with WAVE founder, page 54) Role models Another key to encouraging women to pursue a career in AV is through having role models. Groom, who is heavily involved with WAVE in the UK, whilst also running her own group for women in the broadcast industry – RISE – explained how she grew up wanting to be Karren Brady. Dubbed by the media as ‘the first lady in football’ having become the first female CEO of a football club (Birmingham City, now West Ham) Brady, has gone on to become one of the most inspirational business-women in the world – amassing a fortune in excess of £83 million. Groom said the growing number of women working and holding senior positions within tech and AV industry will help change the perception as well as provide something for them to 50
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aspire to achieving and encourages those in such positions to make themselves known and voices heard. “Role models for people to look up to and aspire to become are essential for every industry,” said Groom. “I don’t have the figures yet for the AV sector, but in the broadcast tech sector, there are less than two per cent female CEO’s. “If you look into an industry and all you see is pictures of men receiving awards, or pictures of people working on a live event and they’re all men – you’re not going to be inspired or encouraged to be a part of it. “I’ve done 20 IBC events and 10 ISE events. The number of women, or lack of women, didn’t have an impact on me until I started growing my business. I was looking around for other senior women to have as a role model, but I couldn’t see or find any. I could see some on the marketing side, but from the side of the manufacturers, the dealers, the distributors – they just were not there. She continued: “They (AV manufactures) all acknowledge they need to do more. I think it gets put on the back burner, because business gets in the way. These companies need a champion. There are some very good senior women out there.” Loud and proud Houston agreed, believing women working in the industry today can help inspire existing and future generations by raising their own profiles, making their presence felt and voices heard at events and through the press amongst others. “There are a few role models in our industry that work hard to highlight good practice and provide thought leadership,” she explained. “Some familiar names and faces can be seen in the media and at industry events, but we need more. People need to find the time to participate – it’s a cliché, but the more you put in, the more you get out.”
EYE ON DIVERSITY
‘The companies that succeed in fostering effective leadership, sustained by a diversity of both practices and gender, will gain a unique opportunity to develop a competitive edge that latecomers will find hard and long to acquire’ McKinsey & Company, Women Matter, report. Blackman agreed: “There are definitely a lot more voices in the industry now pushing women into management positions. When women see that they’re not just in the lower levels and see others excel into more senior management positions, then it inspires others. Every business wants the right person for the job, whether that’s male or female, but what we’re trying to do is encourage more women to compete to be the best.” Society Society is also seen as another obstacle to overcome, with some feeling that old fashioned and out-dated attitudes towards females in the workplace – whilst improving – still remains an issue in some circles. Some of those we spoke with also suggest they still witness and experiences high levels of sexism creating an impression that women are inferior or less capable than men. As a regular traveller, Groom says that sexism remains ripe in society, noting she almost “always” witnesses some form of negative or insulting reaction when a female pilot makes a pre-flight address, something “never” repeated when it’s male.. From an AV perspective, she says how she has often been at or taken part in tech conferences, where sexist remarks have been made, or people get up and leave when a female speaker takes to the stage. One such sexist remark was made just moments before she herself took to the stage to give a keynote speech
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“A broadcast manufacturer flew me out to do a talk at their conference in Helsinki, which included 140 men and two women,” she explained. “The man speaking before me concluded his presentation saying that it was so simple a woman could understand it. I just had to laugh at him as I’m so used to it. You could see there were a few uncomfortable faces around. Those types of sayings and those types of comments really don’t help. I just asked them not to all leave the room because they might learn something and because I bet some of them have a daughter, a sister or a niece.” Trade (no) shows Dutta, who is also a successful tech journalist – currently editor of Systems Contractor News (SCN) – added whilst she has rarely experienced issues related to equality herself, she still sees glimpses of it at AV tradeshows – noting how women are used to help grab attentions by wearing provocative outfits. Whilst such scenes are becoming increasingly rare, she believes the few that do remain are having a negative impact. “For the most part, I’ve been treated as an equal, but this is not to say that’s always the case for me or other women.There is definitely an inherent bias when it comes to being a female in the industry. CES still allows exhibitors to have booth babes. This is not a car show, it is a professional tradeshow. Having women in skimpy outfits to attract visitors is off-putting for most women. It also degrades female tech experts. Imagine working in your company’s booth and being dismissed simply because people assume you are hired talent. That’s a story I hear over and over again, and we need to change. I am proud to have been a part of the InfoComm Exhibitor Committee where we worked with AVIXA staff to create a professional dress code for exhibitors.” Houston concluded the discussion insisting solving the issue must be a collective effort, adding companies that act quickest, will be the ones that benefit: “We all have a responsibility to break this age-old conditioning,” she said. “You could ask, ‘why bother trying to address the gender balance’, but in my view, actively fostering an equal workplace is good for innovation, good for employees and good for business.”
EYE ON DIVERSITY
ATTITUDES TOWARDS WOMEN ARE STILL A PROBLEM Award-winning AV technician Madeleine Vining takes time out from her busy schedule at the Royal Society of Medicine to discuss why she chose a career in AV, and reveals why a cultural change in attitude towards women is needed > Above: 1 Wimpole Street has been a big supporter for women working and progressing in the AV indsustry
adeleine Vining is something of an anomaly when it comes to the AV industry. Winner of the Rising Star Award at the Install Awards in 2016, Madeleine is one of just a handful of (known) female AV technicians working in the UK, currently plying her trade at the Royal Society of Medicine in London – a venue with conference and events facilities used by thousands every year. Part of a team of eight, Madeleine – Maddy to her friends – has moved up the ranks from being a trainee in 2012, to now senior AV technician – a position she’s held for almost three years.
made me want to look at a career in not just sound but also in vision, so my thoughts changed. A trainee job popped up at the Royal Society of Medicine and I was one of 200 applicants that applied – but thankfully I got it! I’ve progressed from trainee, to technician to senior technician in a short space of time.
Hi Madeleine: When did you first decide a career in AV was for you? I studied music technology and thought I’d have a career in sound. After finishing university I worked at the 2012 Olympics and was trained in utilities – so helping with the cameras, setting up microphones and assisting camera operators. That experience
What’s a typical day for you at 1 Wimpole Street? Every day is different. There are other technicians that I manage, so if there are any technology issues, I will sort them out. I also do video editing, live streaming, video conferencing, meeting clients, site visits and video recording.
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EYE ON DIVERSITY
“When you go to different events and tradeshows and the stands are filled with ‘booth babes’ and women are seen as things and not taken seriously, it leaves a bad taste” What is it you enjoy about the AV industry? It’s always changing and there are always different challenges to overcome. I’ve not got bored yet! Did your qualifications help you get the job? My degree doesn’t really help that much in AV other than with sound. To be in AV you don’t need qualifications, which I think is really good. A lot of our technicians have the skills but not necessarily a piece of paper with a qualification written on it. It’s a job you can learn. If you apply yourself and want to learn, you can succeed. What are your observations regarding diversity? It’s a very male dominated industry. When I go to tradeshows, events or training there are very rarely many women – sometimes I’m the only one. How about at your work? We have eight technicians and recently brought in another female, which is great. Why do you think that is? It starts from a very early stage. People don’t see women doing these sorts of jobs and because women don’t see other women doing these jobs, there are no role models. During university, I was the only woman on my course, so I’m very used to it, but it would be nice to see more women involved. Was AV ever mentioned to you as a career growing up? Nearly everyone I’ve spoken too didn’t grow up wanting to work in AV. They didn’t study for it, so they just stumbled into it. AVIXA is trying to help schools become more aware of AV because people just don’t realise it’s a good career path. Have you experienced any level of sexism in your position? Yes, definitely. Sometimes I receive a call to the AV office and they seem surprised when I tell them they’ve reached the right team and that I am actually able to answer their technical questions.
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KEVIN MCLOUGHLIN “If we hadn’t put a job ad out for a tech-loving trainee technician with no experience necessary we would not have had an application from Maddie, a recent graduate at the time, as this role bypassed the natural gender bias experienced when advertising for a standard AV technician’s role. She is an incredible asset to our team and the AV community and a pleasure to work with, but she needed an open door to break into the AV industry. Creative recruitment methods are one way that we can positively address the disproportionate representation by women in AV roles and I think further positive action needs to be taken by the industry as a whole or the status quo will remain.”
So, there’s a feeling that because you’re a woman you’ll be unable to help? Yes, exactly. Sometimes I’ll ask them what their question is and they’ll actually tell me I probably won’t be able to help them – which I can. Do you experience any other forms of sexism? When you go to different events and tradeshows and the stands are filled with ‘booth babes’ and women are seen as things and not taken seriously, it leaves a bad taste. Sometimes I can be with another male colleague and another male will speak to us, but won’t make any eye contact with me or address me during the conversation as if I’m not worth their time. If there were more females in the industry, I’m sure that attitude would change. If you were standing in front of a classroom of children, what would you tell them? I’d tell them it’s a very interesting job and definitely worth pursuing if you have an interest in anything technical. There are so many elements to AV and it’s always changing, so it really never gets boring. Is this something you’d like to do? I actually had a letter from my old high school, asking for former students to come in and do a talk about what it is they’re doing now. I wrote back saying it would be a great opportunity to tell the kids about AV and the opportunities it provides, but sadly, he just wrote back and basically told me thanks but no thanks.
“When you go to tradeshows and the stands are filled with ‘booth babes’ and women are seen as things and not taken seriously, it leaves a bad taste”
How did you feel? I was shocked. Even the headmaster is blocking potential pathways for students. Does he even understand what it is, that it’s an interesting job and that anyone can do it? Why wouldn’t you want to broaden their minds? AV is great career choice for males and females.
EYE ON DIVERSITY
AS AN INDUSTRY, WE HAVEN’T DONE ENOUGH AVTE gets the views of Women in AV founder and successful AV specialist, Jennifer Willard
One of the industry’s biggest cheerleaders for supporting, encouraging and engaging with women in the AV industry, is the group Women in AV, or WAVE for short. Formed in 2011, the group now has more than 1,000 members (including 200 plus in the UK) and a presence across six continents. AVTE spoke to its founder Jennifer Willard – an AV specialist running her own AV/IT firm in the San Francisco Bay Area, J Technology Solutions – to get her views on the issue of gender diversity in the industry. Hi Jennifer. When it comes to gender, what are your observations of the AV industry? The AV industry has similar struggles to other STEM industries when it comes to having equal numbers of females compared to males, averaging around 20 per cent. However, we stand out in a unique way where, in my experience, the men in our industry are very open and encouraging of having more females join us. Many of the Women in AV’s biggest advocates and supporters have been and continue to be the men in our industry. Why do you personally think there are so few females working in the AV industry today? Historically, the AV industry itself has been challenged with communicating the message of our value that goes beyond gender. For so long, AV systems have been seen as a nice to have versus a core solution to a company’s ability to communicate and improve their customers experience and bottom line. For women specifically, I think females tend to want to be involved in work they feel makes a 54
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> Above: Founder of WAVE, Jennifer Willard
“I think females tend to want to be involved in work they feel makes a difference in people’s lives”
difference in people’s lives and as an industry, we haven’t done enough to show we’re not just boxes with flashing lights, but, our equipment gives people the reach people in ways they couldn’t do without.
“In my experience, the men in our industry are very open and encouraging of having more females join us”
Where do you think the problem originates? I was blessed to attend a public high school and university that had a fully-functioning broadcast studio and television station where I learned the technology without feeling pressure that my job was tied to any lack of knowledge I might have in those areas. Being able to make mistakes without fear of it costing me my job was fundamental to feeling confident I could succeed. Seeing other women doing the same thing is critical to motivating women to say I can do that too. As an industry, we need more scholarships and training for all people who want to step up their game and knowledge with practical opportunities that lead to advancement.
Has this changed during your career? I hope the success of Women in AV has shown how much the AV industry has improved in wanting and believing in how important women are to ensuring the relevance and continued success of what we do and offer as a technology that makes a difference in our customer’s and client’s experience and ability to grow their own companies. The AV industry’s leading in its efforts to be inclusive, progressive, and responsive to our client’s and customer needs
EYE ON DIVERSITY
ISE MD Mike Blackman suggests there is still a perception that AV is an industry for men rather than women. What are your thoughts? Mike Blackman’s perception of AV still being considered a male industry is right and no different to the struggles all STEM industries face today. We need to do a better job showing ourselves as a profession, not only females, but youth are welcome in and can thrive to achieve leadership roles and influence that’s respected and recognised.
It’s exactly the support of men like himself and industry leaders who are changing how the AV industry is perceived and the opportunities women have to be part of a future that’s inclusive and successful for anyone who wants to be part of something that will make a positive difference in companies and on people’s lives. For more information on Women in AV, visit http://womeninav.com
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AVIXA WEIGHS IN ON DIVERSITY DEBATE AVTE talks to Heidi Voorhees, chief operating officer, AVIXA, and executive director, AVIXA Foundation about the perception and reality of gender diversity in the AV industry and what steps can be taken to improve the situation > Above: The Center Stage at InfoComm 2017. This year‘s event will again feature discussions on a broad range of AV topics
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Hi Heidi. What are your views on the subject of gender diversity in the AV industry? There is a gender gap in the AV industry, but it’s not simply an AV industry gender gap. It reflects a gap across STEM disciplines. And it’s not just an issue in the workforce either. It’s also an issue in academia, where women and girls still don’t pursue technology and engineering-related fields as a career at nearly the same rate as men and boys. In fact, if anything, there are signs that the number of women entering some STEM fields, such as computer science, is dropping. The AV industry needs to be part of the bigger conversation about how to attract more women into the STEM workforce.
ISE saw women make up just 11 per cent of the 80,000+ attendees at the 2018 event. How does this compare with InfoComm? The percentage of women at the North American InfoComm show is about 15 per cent and has held pretty steady in recent years. But although we’d agree there is a gender gap in the industry, I’d caution against drawing direct conclusions about the size of the gap based on ISE or InfoComm attendance numbers, which reflect only the professionals in positions that attend the shows. Do you consider the lack of females working in the AV industry to be a problem?
INTERVIEW The AV industry is constantly looking for new talent, and to do that it needs to draw from the broadest talent pool possible. But when almost half of the professional workforce isn’t entering technology fields, it presents a problem – for us, for IT, for engineering, for computer science, and others. Gender diversity can only help the AV industry. There are studies that indicate gender-diverse teams are more innovative, and that gender-diverse management leads to greater company value. If any company in any industry – including the AV industry – fails to seize on those benefits, it’s a problem. AVIXA is extremely active with hosting AV events and training – are these predominantly male attended? Our events reflect the industry at large, which is currently majority male. You’ve [AVIXA] recently increased your focus on training and presenting to end users – what is a typical audience in this instance? This depends on the market we’re engaging with, and I don’t have exact numbers, but, for example, when we are addressing the retail and hospitality markets, a higher percentage of those audiences are women. In other markets, there may be more of a gender gap. What about your own staff? How many are female and how many of those are directly involved with the educational aspect? AVIXA is about 50 per cent female. Importantly, our board of directors is one-third women and our Leadership Search Committee, whose job it is to identify talented AV professionals to serve the industry in AVIXA leadership roles, is almost half women. To be clear, AVIXA’s board and LSC seeks the most qualified individuals to steer our efforts supporting the industry regardless of gender, race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. We are fortunate for – and both AVIXA and the industry benefit from – the amazing women who serve.
“If anything, there are signs that the number of women entering some STEM fields, such as computer science, is dropping”
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Why do you think there are few females working in the AV industry? The answers aren’t simple. There are likely many reasons more women don’t enter the AV workforce or any other technology trade, for that matter. According to the US Census Bureau, there continues to be a sizeable gender pay gap in STEM-related jobs. According to Pew Research, half of women in STEM jobs say they’ve been discriminated against at work. Not to draw a direct correlation to the AV industry, for which I don’t have specific figures, but that’s a problem. So technology-related industries, like all industries, need to take positive steps to ensure that working in those fields is a rewarding, positive experience for all talented professionals, regardless of their gender. Given AVIXA’s importance to the AV industry, do you feel you have a responsibility to address this issue? AVIXA encourages and supports efforts toward promoting greater gender diversity. We created what is now the AVIXA Women’s Council several years ago to give women and men a forum for addressing gender diversity and promoting mentorship opportunities. Is there anything AVIXA is doing, can do, or is planning to do, to address the issue? For several years, AVIXA worked with organisers of the USA Science & Engineering Festival and related programmes to show young women and men how exciting audio and video can be, and how they can pursue studies – or even a career – in AV. At the professional level, the AVIXA Women’s Council – including men and women – continues to be one of our most successful and engaging volunteer initiatives to date, with local groups hosting events worldwide to help support and encourage women working in technology industries. And within the last few weeks, AVIXA has taken the first steps toward establishing a new Diversity Council, which will promote gender diversity as well as diversity of race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. With the AV industry growing the way it is, and with a tightening labour market of qualified AV professionals, it’s critical that the industry be as inclusive as possible in order to attract talent. Finally, the AVIXA Foundation, which works closely with the association on workforce development issues, is realigning its strategic priorities to include efforts that actively promote diversity through its programmes, which include scholarships and grants. www.avixa.org
> Above: Heidi Voorhees, COO, AVIXA, and executive director, AVIXA Foundation
“Technologyrelated industries need to take steps to ensure that working in those fields is a rewarding experience”
AN AIR OF EXCITEMENT IN MILAN Milan Design Week 2018 was the ideal setting for Panasonic, whose ‘Air Inventions’ sensory experience – housed inside a 20-metre dome – was the star attraction. Duncan Proctor jetted out to see this unique installation and get an insight into the exciting new approach to technology the company is taking
uring this year’s Milan Design Week, Panasonic exhibited a unique install to mark its 100th anniversary and also prefaced the company’s future direction with a couple of presentations. I was flown out early on the morning of 16 April along with a group of European journalists from across AV and adjacent industries to bear witness at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, home of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. Milan Design Week is the collective name for the world’s biggest furniture showcase and exhibitions that runs in April each year. Now in its 57th year the event brings a sizeable chunk of central Milan to a standstill due to the interest and congestion it generates. The concept for Panasonic’s exhibition was ‘Transitions’ and it signals the company’s move to become “not purely > Above: Xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx focused on creating objects, but moving in closer to people’s xxxxxxxxxxxxxx hearts.” The three areas that will be promoted going forward xxxxxxxxxxxxxx include ‘culture’, ‘living space’ and ‘community’, which the manufacturer says will generate new experiences and values. On these areas, Shigeo Usui, director of Panasonic Design,
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explained: “Culture – we strongly believe in being a creative team that does not only focus on the usability and efficiency of products. We also focus on how these products fit into the culture of consumers’ lives, lifestyles and experiences. “The next focus area is Living Space. Life should be considered as how we experience and feel as we flow through different living spaces, rather than simply about how products and spaces function. “The last focus area is Community. We believe that our company should behave like a community existing as part of a bigger society. From now on, we aim to be a creative community that collaborates and co-creates with people, societies, brands and so on from all over the world.” Air Inventions Onto the company’s Milan exhibition – aptly named ‘Air Inventions’, the temporary installation includes a number of proprietary technologies from Panasonic, some you’d expect – 4K projection, and others you wouldn’t – air conditioning. “In an era where diverse values co-exist, the role of design is dramatically changing,” said Usui. “Our ‘Air Inventions’
“In an era where diverse values co-exist, the role of design is dramatically changing”
“Indoor drones new and the potent > Left: The exterior of the ‘Air Inventions’ is vas installation at the Pinacoteca di Brera during Milan Design Week 2018
> Inside the dome ‘nanoe X’ and ‘Silky fine mist’ air conditioning technology is combined with projection mapping
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installation has been born out of our strong commitment to a new creative philosophy that focuses on the value of intangible experiences.” ‘Air Inventions’, which lasted around five minutes, engaged different senses with the 4K projection component providing stunning visuals, complemented by air purification technology. This created an otherworldly atmosphere within the dome unlike anything I have experienced. The result is an immersive and absorbing experience that leaves you feeling cleansed and refreshed. The air dome is 20-metres in diameter and placed in the courtyard of the venue in the shape of a giant water-drop, although Pinacoteca di Brera director, James Bradburne, admitted many have said the shape more closely resembles a ball of mozzarella. Inside the dome structure, Panasonic aimed to create “the most beautiful and clean space in Milan” by utilising its latest air conditioning technology – ‘nanoe X’ air purification ionisation technology, and ‘silky fine mist’, another proprietary technology, which micronizes water with high-pressured air. In terms of the AV technology on
> ‘Silky fine mist’ uses compressed air to turn water into minute particles
show – to create the accompanying 4K projection mapping, two 27,000-lumen PT-RQ32K projectors were deployed along with ET-D3LEF70 fisheye lenses. Developed by Panasonic, ‘nanoe X’ collects moisture from the air and applies a high voltage to create nano-sized particles of water. Highly reactive components, known as OH radicals are generated and these inhibit viruses and bacteria, remove odours from fabrics and inhibit allergens and mould. In this installation the technology is used to clean the air. ‘Silky fine mist’ uses compressed air to turn water into minute particles; it’s at low pressure removing the need for huge compressors. The size of the particles means that while there is a feeling of moisture in the air, you emerge from the dome dry. It has been developed as a viable city cooling technology (for events such as the Tokyo Olympics), and the low pressure prevents any resemblance to a quasi-human car wash. All in all a thoroughly pleasant experience and just what you need on a hot Milan afternoon. In addition the particles are used as a new screen for the projector with light cast on the mist. The ET-D3LEF70 fisheye lens expands the projected angle of view, which in combination with the high brightness PT-RQ32K projectors reduces the number of units needed when staging events in large spaces. As the focus depth is large and focus adjustment is rarely necessary it can also be used in performance spaces other than domed theatres. Roadmap Following the installation, press were invited to an on-site press conference, which described a number of the technologies featured in ‘Air Inventions’, and also revealed more about the direction Panasonic will take in the future. Laurent Abadie, CEO and chairman of Panasonic Europe, highlighted the need for the company to continue to adapt and provide new solutions. “One of our efforts will be to strengthen our design approach to continue to innovate now and in the future,” he stated. “I’m very proud that our determination to keep adapting and changing is being expressed here in our exhibition at the world’s biggest design festival, Salone Milano.” 60
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To summarise the new approach, Abadie said: “This year, we’ve chosen the theme of ‘Transitions’ to reflect our design team’s determination to be flexible, adaptable and respond to the unprecedented changes we’re seeing in society and the wider world today. “In this age of diversity, people are questioning and challenging what is most valuable to them. It’s no longer all about physical possessions, but about experiences, feelings and wellbeing too. “We are challenging ourselves to meet these changing needs, combining the 100 years’ experience we have in creating innovative products, with an appreciation of these emerging ‘invisible’ values that consumers seek. This is expressed in our exhibition here at Salone Milano.” On Panasonic’s exhibit at this year’s event, Usui commented: “We purposely avoided designing physical things and instead designed the experience, which was fulfilled by creating ‘the most pure air in Milan’ featuring Panasonic’s latest technology ‘nanoe X’ and ‘Silky fine mist’.” The second and final day of the trip consisted of a presentation and solutions showcase by Michael Pullan,
“I’m very proud that our determination to keep adapting and changing is being expressed here at the world’s biggest design festival” European PR Manager for Panasonic. He began by revealing, on 1 April the company launched a new retail division for the UK, France and Germany. The motivation behind this development is to try and revitalise the high street, which has been severely affected by the rise of e-commerce. However, Panasonic firmly believes the physical store can still be a great asset for a lot of retailers if they make it work, and the company’s expertise in the Internet of Things/connected solutions can be a catalyst for this. The solutions being introduced fall under a new connected store and omnichannel approach. Among the solutions being trialled are 360-degree shopper analytics that utilise existing security infrastructure to provide customer analytics. Other solutions include real-time out of stock management (using CCTV analytics), and electronic shelf labelling. The Milan event showcased a combination of technology that created a singular experience and the company’s plans for a more experience-based model is something the industry as a whole has been highlighting. AVIXA (formerly InfoComm) rebranded last year to emphasise this point and a growing number of companies have stated the necessity for creating experiences and not just selling ‘boxes’. All this gives Panasonic every chance of making its next hundred years as innovative as its first.
CREATION. CONSUMPTION. DELIVERY
20TH & 21ST JUNE 2018
GRAND CONNAUGHT ROOMS, CENTRAL LONDON TRANSFORMING THE WAY WE CREATE AND DELIVER CONTENT TO BETTER ENGAGE OUR AUDIENCE MediaTech 360 is a two day summit bringing together content owners and providers alike to discuss the application of emergent technologies, their impact on business strategies, and where the opportunities and challenges lie as the marketplace evolves.
WWW.MEDIA-TECH360.COM #mediatech360 MT360 DPS_V6.indd 1
@mediatech360 24/05/2018 10:31
AGENDA HIGHLIGHTS DAY 1- 20TH JUNE 2017
DAY 2- 21ST JUNE 2017
HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
Panel discussion Cloud vs. cloud – cost, collaboration and creativity • Defining your media cloud migration strategy • Public/private, multi/hybrid - what’s the difference? • Best practice in using and selling cloud based tools and services • How do you ensure secure connectivity to multiple cloud providers?
Market insight Let’s talk about data • What’s next for connected devices? • Future predictions and ramifications of data sharing • Leveraging analytics to transform content distribution • Value exchange – are consumers unwittingly giving up control?
THE FUTURE OF ADVERTISING
AI, ROBOTICS AND MACHINE LEARNING
Market insight Where are the new ad opportunities and how can they drive revenue? • What technologies are being implemented to drive innovation? • How can we measure the impact of such technologies? • Collaborating with the new (big) kids on the block • The application of mixed reality and its impact on personalisation • Understanding our customers – how can we better target and visually communicate to them? • How can we personalise in a brand safe environment?
MONETISING SPORTS AND LIVE EVENTS Panel discussion OTT broadcasters and sports rights – what does the future hold? • What additional network infrastructure needs to be considered? • Where does VR stand? • Investing in esports – how can broadcasters strike a balance with publishers, league/event organisers to create a profitable legal and commercial structure? • What are the business models that need to be considered?
Market insight Machine learning and the reinvention of traditional broadcasting • Content creation and product innovation • Personalisation for customers • What’s the broadcast proposition?
A LOOK AHEAD Closing keynote panel A look into 2020 – better insights, greater transparency • Robots vs. humans – the impact of technology on HR • Getting smarter with big data • What are the emerging technologies to invest in now?
View the full agenda online at: www.media-tech360.com
HERE ARE JUST A FEW OF OUR CONFIRMED SPEAKERS:
managing director, Missile
senior director, Ooyala
managing director, the Whistle Sports Network
media business consultant, Christy King LLC
chief executive, M2A Media
all4 head of product, Channel 4
principal technology - media solutions, Ericsson
founder, Zulu Bravo
FOR SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES: PETE MCCARTHY +44 (0) 20 7354 6025 PMCCARTHY@NBMEDIA.COM
MT360 DPS_V6.indd 2
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22/03/2018 19:36:25 14.03.18 13:32
EYE ON EDUCATION
IN A CLASS OF ITS OWN Restructured and relaunched, the LTSMG is ramping up its efforts to support the AV community working in the education sector on a local and global scale
haring the secrets of your success with a competitor is not typically common practice for a business – but for members of the Learning and Teaching Spaces Managers Group (LTSMG), it’s an everyday activity. The volunteer run not for profit group – formed by Az Mohammed (formerly of Newcastle University) in the late 1990’s – was set up exclusively to provide AV professionals working in higher education with a platform in which to communicate, sharing their knowledge and ideas with its members. Today, its popularity continues to rise, with more than 300 active members – some from as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong and even Malta. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of new members here in the UK and we’ve observed increased levels of interest across Europe and other parts of the world,” explained Jonathan Owen who became chairman of the LTSMG in March of last year. “Unlike other professions, there is a real community feel in sharing ideas and helping one another out in the educational sector. Theoretically we’re all competitors and competing for the same student body, but we tend to share virtually everything and it provides huge value to members. Could do better However, according to Owen, the group is only now beginning to show its potential, gaining the notoriety and offering the kind of value its members ‘deserve’. For the past 12 months, Owen and his executive team, which includes prominent industry figure Adam Harvey (see box out), have been working hard to transform the LTSMG into a more professionally run organisation. Owen explains: “I’ve worked at the University of Warwick for > Above: Xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx the past 16 or 17 years and been a member of LTSMG throughout xxxxxxxxxxxxxx its various guises during that time. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx “When I came in as chairman last March (2017), I naively had the assumption there would be a solid structure in place, such as bank accounts and being a registered company – things like that. I
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“I’m immensely proud of the progress we’ve made over the past 12 months”
FREE FOR ALL Despite the growth and commitment to moving the group forward, Owen insists the LTSMG remains passionate about removing any barriers to join, which is why the LTSMG remains completely free – something it has no plans to change anytime soon. “We believe this approach has helped nurture a passionate community of technologists with a diverse range of roles, responsibilities and expertise.” quickly discovered that wasn’t the case at all. Although the group was fairly successful, there wasn’t any real structure. To grow, that needed to change. “I had expressed some concerns to the nominated executive committee that I had inherited and was concerned about the long-term future of the group and whether it was sustainable to continue to grow. I feel things are now in place to do that.” In November last year (2017), the LTSMG was effectively relaunched to help drive greater awareness of what it can offer those in the industry. This included an entirely new executive team, a new website and infrastructure capable of significant growth. Sharing’s caring But what does it offer? For those unfamiliar with the LTSMG, there are essentially two strings to its bow when it comes to its value offering.
> Above: Jonathan Owen, chairman of the LTSMG, and head of learning spaces and collaborative environments at University of Warwick
> Above: Adam Harvey, committee member of the LTSMG, and solutions architect at the University of Hertfordshire
At its core, the group provides its members with the ability to communicate collectively. The LTSMG’s private ‘mailing list’ service (powered by JISC), allows conversations to be held collectively (all members) over email, with responses displayed in a format comparable to a chat room. Owen explained that since the relaunch of the LTSMG last year, which has seen the creation of a brand new website and a greater push on social media, the mailing list service has prompted a surge of interest. “It’s essentially a private space for members to communicate,” explained Owen. “It gives members the freedom to discuss whatever they like. They can ask about an integrator or a particular manufacturer or piece of equipment. It’s a really valuable resource. If someone needs help or advice
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on something, they can ask and people will help if they can.” Harvey, who joined the LTSMG’s executive team following Owen’s appointment and is instrumental in growing the group’s awareness on social media, described the mailing list as a “hive of activity”, used on a daily basis by members asking for help, sharing best practice and exchanging knowledge. “Over the past 12-18 months it’s become a lot more active. That certainly seems to be the go-to place now for information for a lot of people. There are new posts daily.” Conference In addition to the mailing list, the LTSMG also hosts an annual conference for its members – an event which includes networking opportunities,
“Unlike other professions, there is a real community feel in sharing ideas and helping one another out in the educational sector” 63
EYE ON EDUCATION
“We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of new members here in the UK and we’ve observed increased levels of interest across Europe and other parts of the world” keynote speakers and presentations from sponsors (manufacturers) – from whom the group receives its only source of revenue. Owen, who hosted the 2016 edition of the LTSMG’s conference at Warwick University (sparking his deeper involvement), felt the opportunities and its potential were not being met – something which was rectified during his first conference at Harvey’s University [Hertfordshire] at the end of last year (2017). “With respect to Az [Mohammed], it was always run on a relatively small scale and didn’t have much room to become anything bigger,” Owen discussed respectively. “We now have things in place to really push the boundaries. It’s a lot of hard work but the results and feedback show that it was the right thing to do.” To put things in perspective, during Mohammed’s tenure, which ended in 2015 following his retirement, conferences would typically take place over a single day with around six sponsored presentations. Sometimes conferences would take place once every two years. By contrast, under Owen and his team’s leadership the most recent LTSMG conference (held at Harvey’s University of Hertfordshire) took place over three days and included around 22 different sponsors. All inclusive The revenues from the sponsorship were used to pay for the venue, as well as accommodation and 64
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food and drink for around 50 members, whilst a further 20 attended for the day. “As we’ve grown, so has demand,” explained Owen. “We now sell out within a few days, and that’s why we’ll be opening it up for day delegates this year. That’s something we really want to ramp up this year.” Harvey added: “It started off very small, but as it’s become more popular, delegates and sponsors wanted it to be bigger. “At the last conference, we had 50-60 members that took advantage of the package of accommodation, catering and the whole event for free. But there were 44 different institutions represented over those few days. That’s nearly a third of the universities in the UK. That’s a strong influential group of people in a single place, which is valuable to them, but also extremely valuable to our sponsors.” He continued: “Whilst it is a business conference, we want to keep them as informal as possible. Everybody is in together to create a very inclusive community. It’s not just a networking opportunity for the delegates and the sponsors, but for the manufacturers that are there as well. We listen to everybody and make sure the group works for everyone.” A big future Another addition to the LTSMG under Owen’s leadership has seen the launch of mid-year manufacturer specific day events, allowing members to learn more about a particular brand and its products. Partnerships so far have included a day event with WolfVision (Network AV-based collaborative learning), held at City, University of London in March – with more planned going forward. The group has already confirmed its next conference will take place at Loughborough University (14-16 November) on the Olympic Park site in London, with Owen promising it will be its “biggest and best” yet. “I’m immensely proud of the progress we’ve made over the past 12 months,” said Owen wrapping up our discussion. “I believe we’ve maintained the informal nature of the group, which our members and sponsors value most, whilst also broadening our horizons by increasing the size of our community and offering technology-focused events in conjunction with leading manufacturers.” If you’re currently working in the education sector and would like to join the LTSMG, visit: www.ltsmg.co.uk
EXECUTIVE TEAM: Jonathan Owen University of Warwick Aaron Turlington-Smith Loughborough University Colin Fahey Newcastle University Adam Harvey University of Hertfordshire
“When I came in as chairman last March (2017), I naively had the assumption there would be a solid structure in place, such as bank accounts and being a registered company”
MEET YOUR AV MANAGER
MEET YOUR AV MANAGER: David Neal – Lancaster University To kick off our new ‘Meet Your AV Manager’ series, we pick the brain of David Neal, Teaching Space Technology Coordinator at Lancaster University. He reveals the AV equipment the university relies on day-to-day and details his approach to the cutting-edge capabilities universities should be looking to provide for staff and students <Above: The John Welch room at Lancaster University has been updated with a range of AV solutions by integrators Pure AV
What AV equipment do you use/manage on a regular basis? AMX for control, either NX2200’s or an integrated switcher /controller from the DVX range. Projectors are mainly Panasonic and we now specify a laser light source. We have Extron switchers in smaller rooms, and DSP is either Extron or BSS Blu. We are also responsible for Panopto for lecture capture. What are the most common problems you encounter with AV equipment in the university’s teaching spaces and meeting rooms?
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Our biggest problem is batteries in wireless microphones. We have installed charging cradles in our teaching spaces but even with a full charge traditional Radio microphones were only lasting 5-6 hours. Our rooms are heavily used throughout the day and into the evenings so we needed a solution with a longer battery life so we have recently been deploying the Sennheiser Speechline systems, and with the improved battery life of approximately 15 hours we have had far fewer problems than before. What functionality is it crucial for a university to provide? 65
MEET YOUR AV MANAGER <Right: End-user room control is straightforward – managed via an AMX control panel programmed by Pure AV
“The demand for displays that students can work with outside of traditional teaching spaces has sky rocketed in the past couple of years” For the students – a clear image, good audio and lecture recording. We have been providing student collaboration areas for a long time, before they came under the umbrella of ‘Pods’, but the demand for displays that students can access and work with outside of traditional teaching spaces has sky rocketed in the past couple of years. For the staff – as we operate a central room booking policy they can be timetabled anywhere on campus so we need to ensure our Teaching Spaces are consistent not only on what equipment we provide but also a straightforward and consistent user interface for controlling the room.
You recently updated the universities meeting space, what advantages does it provide? A lot of our older meeting spaces would only provide a display screen and a VGA wired input for laptops. We are now providing Skype for Business capabilities in all meeting rooms as well as BYOD wireless connectivity. This means our staff can confidently book a meeting room knowing the equipment they need will already be present and don’t have to make additional requests. Also deploying common equipment across campus really helps with user familiarity and cuts down on training requests.
In terms of AV, what are some of the cuttingedge capabilities universities should be looking to provide to keep evolving? Collaboration has been a buzzword in education for a few years now, so anything from wireless BYOD devices like Kramer Via and Solstice Pods to Skype for Business/Teams and integration with devices like Surface Hubs. VR and Augmented reality suites are currently niche teaching requirements but I can see them becoming more widespread, and not just as a single user experience but a whole group of students experiencing one environment together. This also extends beyond the traditional campus boundaries, we have large numbers of distance students around the world and a campus in China so been able to give those students more of the ‘Lancaster experience’ via the use of technology.
What factors do you have to consider to ensure a space is future proof? We ensure there is spare capacity on any switchers so we can add additional devices without a major rewire. In addition, providing power and network capability beyond what the systems currently need so that connectivity issues do not limit future expansion.
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Are you looking to enhance the university’s AV offering in other ways? We are always looking at ways of improving our services. We recently took on a new member of staff to offer an enhanced lecture capture service with a camera operator to improve the quality of the video up from a ‘fly on the wall’ type of view. We are also due to upgrade our largest lecture theatre on campus and will be installing a Panasonic auto-trak camera
MEET YOUR AV MANAGER system. Earlier this year we installed a ‘big screen’ in the central University square to show news, upcoming events and live sports. We recently had a ‘futures room’ showcasing newer technologies that lecturers may want to try out for their teaching sessions, so we set up equipment ranging from an Oculus Rift to a Smart Kapp writing surface.
<The use of ceiling boundary mics from Clockaudio means meeting attendees need not worry about audio quality and clarity during video conferences
How big of an AV in-house team do you currently have? The ‘AV Team’ is myself plus three AV Engineers and one Digital Media Engineer. However all of our IT Engineers will cover AV callouts as well so that takes the number up by another 13. We also provide support for events and conferences, which keeps us busy outside of teaching terms as well. Do you typically go via an integrator/ distributor for AV installs or do some upgrades/ projects get handled in-house? All of our installs are carried out by an integrator from the NWUPC framework. In-house we can then concentrate on service and maintenance of the teaching spaces. We keep spare stock of most items installed on campus so if we do have a failure we are able to react quickly and swap out whatever the faulty device is whether it’s a faulty projector, switcher or controller. Using an installer from the Framework is really beneficial as we get to build long lasting relationships with trusted suppliers knowing that they have already been subjected to rigorous checks on not just their technical abilities but also their financial stability and Green credentials. This significantly cuts down on the amount of paperwork we are required to do especially for the larger tenders and allows us to concentre on the technical requirements of the installations. Do you maintain direct relationships with manufacturers? We maintain relationships with both the integrators and the manufacturers, there’s always something interesting to find out so we like to keep multiple lines of communication open! What are some of the ways universities get it wrong when it comes to AV? The same as anywhere I would assume, overly complicated systems that may offer a hi-tech solution but aren’t usable by someone without specific knowledge of the system design. AV Managers at UK Universities are able to tap into some great resources to help avoid common mistakes though, the SCHOMS and LTSMG
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“VR and AR suites are currently niche teaching requirements but I can see them becoming more widespread” groups are very active communities each with annual conferences sharing knowledge on best practice and case studies so this is a great way to learn what does and doesn’t work. Are there any systems/solutions you have tried previously and had particular issues with? The main problems we have had is when a product comes to market too soon and then you have a spate of firmware upgrades before the product is really ready to be used in a real world environment. Being an early adopter can be an advantage but can also be risky. www.lancaster.ac.uk
VIDEO WALL SHARPENS UP SCHOOL ASSEMBLIES As a new-build school, Aureus Secondary School had the opportunity to design their building around the technology they wanted right from the beginning. To inspire their pupils, they chose to include a video wall as an awe-inspiring centrepiece for their assembly hall > Above: Nine Sharp PNV600A’s 6.5mm bezel displays help bring new life to tired assemblies and boost revenue opportunities with use in the wider community
ureus Secondary School is a brand new, state of the art comprehensive 11-16 school that serves the newly created Great Western park area of Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK. It was created as part of the new town, which will include as many as 3,300 new homes in the next few years. As a new school, Aureus was perfectly placed to be more creative with its building infrastructure than would be possible in an older building. For its assembly hall, the school’s intention was to
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create an awe-inspiring centrepiece that could not only attract the attention of their students, but deliver content to the them in a way that’s both modern and engaging. Aureus turned to education specialist, and Sharp partner, Elementary Technology, to help them define what AV kit they needed. They worked closely together, turning the initial idea into a working solution, helping the school through the process of choosing the right hardware and software for their needs. The same applied to other AV technology throughout the school, such as
“The engagement it brings with the imagery and videography, we can use in assemblies, that for me is a beautiful centrepiece” digital signage, interactive touch screens and more. “There is more freedom when installing a video wall into a new school, from a size and accessibility point of view,” explained Ed Fairfield, senior marketing manager at Elementary Technology. “Aureus Secondary School wanted a complete audiovisual solution, and for the displays they decided on the Sharp PNV600A for its clarity and thin bezels. We created the video wall using nine displays, each with a screen size of 60-inches. The final video wall size is an impressive four-metres wide by 2.2-metres tall.” Indeed, with the Sharp PNV600A’s 6.5mm bezel between active areas, once assembled, provides an “almost seamless” experience – ideal when presenting to an audience and when you want an uninterrupted learning experience. The LCD monitor has enhanced contrast ratio controls, making it ideal for multi-screen configurations. What’s more, Mirror Frame technology minimises the lines between the slim-bezel panels by reflecting mirror images from the display content. This creates a more dynamic video wall and an even smoother big picture. The school is predominantly using the video wall for two purposes. Firstly for school assemblies, so the children will sit in front of it as a teacher presents something on screen that’s school related. Additionally, they’re allowing the local community to use it, and organisations have even
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used the school hall and video wall for conferences. It means there is a revenue stream potential too. This is the largest video wall Elementary Technology has installed. After the site survey and any prep work was completed, it took two days to complete this bespoke project, paying strict attention to the requirements from the school, who are extremely happy with the result. Paul Wright, computer science leader at Aureus Secondary School, said the: “Assemblies that we are able to put on in the school are hugely immersive, because of the video wall. As soon as a child comes in, they are taken by that wall and their attention is focused on what’s going on. It’s a really impressive way of immersing a child into an assembly.” Hannah Wilson, headteacher, at Aureus Secondary School concurs: “[The] video wall in the main hall is phenomenal. The engagement it brings with the imagery and videography, we can use in assemblies, that for me is a beautiful centrepiece.”
“Assemblies that we are able to put on in the school are hugely immersive, because of the video wall”
MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR
MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR: Anna Valley Anna Valley’s integration director Nick Shaw discusses some of the changes and trends he’s seeing in the AV industry today, whilst also offering advice on selecting an integration partner and how to avoid potentially costly mistakes <Above: The Sky’s the limit when it comes to providing a wow factor for your business
Tell us about the business. Anna Valley has been providing AV across various sectors for over 25 years. We started supplying screens to broadcast clients, then expanded into event AV rentals and finally established the integration department in 2015. Our team has over 10 years’ experience and can provide an in-house cradle-to-grave service. What is your geographic reach? We’re a local company and only have offices in the UK, but we’ve completed installations in Europe, the Middle East and America. For international projects we normally work with local partners.
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How is business? Very good! We’ve had a 400 per cent increase in business over the last year and the team is steadily growing to keep up with the workload. In the last two years we’ve gone from being a small, unrecognised player in the local integration market to being one of the leading contenders. What trends are you seeing in the market? Five years ago, corporate clients were fitting out meeting rooms with high-end tech and spending a lot of money on bespoke VC equipment, but the trend is now towards simplification. Users want to be able to come in, open their laptops, connect to a
“LED is the hottest display technology at the moment and everyone is trying to cash in on it” screen and webcam and start working immediately. The technology that delivers this ease of use has become quite cheap and meeting room budgets have dropped. LED screens have become much more affordable and, subsequently, are increasing in popularity. Clients looking for big impact screens in the past would often have to settle for large format displays and video walls because LED screens were prohibitively expensive. Now the same budget that you’d have spent on an LFD display five years ago will buy you a high definition LED video wall. What’s hot in AV right now? LED is the hottest display technology at the moment and everyone is trying to cash in on it. Anna Valley was one of the first UK companies to invest in LED technology back when only specialist manufacturers supplied them, but now just about every technology brand has an LED product in their portfolio. Samsung is a popular brand right now – partly because you can build an entire suite of AV, IT and security systems using only products from their group of brands. People also trust their products – they’ve turned their reputation around from being a provider of cheap products to now being recognised as a premium brand. Any personal product favourites? We’ve been burned by products that promise a lot but don’t deliver when they get on site. Sometimes the less interesting products that operate in the background are undervalued. Peerless-AV provides mounts and brackets – both off-the-shelf and customised products – and without their support (literally!) we wouldn’t be able to create some of the more ambitious displays for clients looking for the wow factor. What are the biggest obstacles/frustrations you’re seeing in the industry? There’s often a disconnect between what clients want to achieve and the budget that’s been allocated towards AV solutions. Our clients are under
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pressure to justify what they spend and prove that an investment in AV will provide a return – either in increased productivity or revenue – so they need to ensure they’re getting maximum value for minimum cost. Finding the right balance between budget and the return it offers can be tricky but sometimes spending more up front actually saves money over time – in reduced maintenance, increased technology, life-span etc. Has the attitude towards professional and high-quality AV changed for businesses in recent years? People are definitely spending more on, and expect more from, AV solutions in most walks of life. In the same way that DOOH (digital-out-of-home) providers have moved from static posters and scroller displays to digital displays because they can generate more revenue from increased impressions and content, so corporates have moved from flipcharts and telephones to big screens and video conferencing because they improve efficiency and increase profits. AV has proved its ability to provide a return on investment. Why should end users go through an integrator rather than simply buy and install themselves? There are four main reasons why end users should use integrators: Because of the skillset and knowledge that an integrator adds to the equation. We spend all day, every day working with AV technology, putting solutions together and collaborating with technology providers. Most equipment manufacturers won’t transact directly with end users – their route to market is normally via distributors or integration partners. Integrators don’t only help you design and install AV systems but also provide support and aftersales service to keep your system running.
<Above: LED-ing the way Everton FC’s conference rooms
COMPANY STATS: Company: Anna Valley Name: Nick Shaw Title: Integration director Location: London
Corporate, DOOH, retail, sports and entertainment venues
Services offered: Full AV integration – technical planning, installation, service and support
MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR
Even if end users are capable of installing, maintaining and supporting their own AV – they would have to recruit and manage the staff and deal with numerous providers to source and maintain the equipment. It’s more convenient to deal with one integrator to take care of everything on your behalf while you focus on your core business. What are the most common mistakes from businesses when it comes to AV? The most common mistake businesses make is thinking that their AV success is based on their knowledge about the technology available when actually it’s based on their unique understanding of
their company’s needs. AV integrators and technology suppliers can teach you everything about the tech and help you choose solutions that deliver the functionality you need – but only you can put together the brief that describes your perfect solution. No matter how big or small your organisation, or your level of AV knowledge, if you focus on what you’re trying to achieve then you’re on your way to conceptualising, designing and integrating the right AV solution for your company. Finally, how important is it for a business – of any kind - to have/use good quality AV? Massively. Cheap isn’t best. Buying cheap products might mean you save money upfront but you’ll end up paying more to keep that solution operational. And the quality of AV has to extend beyond just the quality of actual product to include service and support from the provider. As an integrator we are product agnostic – if a client is looking for a specific brand then we will provide what they ask for - but if the customer doesn’t have a preference then we leverage our relationships with manufacturers that provide good products, a good range and support at a competitive price.
<Above: NEC Vox conference centre earns additional revenue from digital advertising
“Buying cheap products might mean you save money upfront, but you’ll end up paying more to keep it operational”
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ISE 2019 SAVE THE DATES
S TAY C O N N E C T E D
60 SECONDS WITH: Chris Schyvinck President and CEO, Shure
When did you first become involved with Shure? I’ve been with the company since 1989 having held positions in the engineering department, and progressing into roles in manufacturing, sales and marketing. I have been in my current position as president and CEO since 2016.
What products are proving the most popular at Shure today? We’ve continued to invest in our wireless offerings – whether it’s for conferences, large-scale live events or executive-level meetings. Microflex Advance (MXA) has been adopted for many unique applications. From professional sports teams’ press rooms and highereducation classrooms, to boardroom applications.
How has the company evolved during this time? When I started, Shure was laser-focused on serving predominantly as a professional audio company. What advice would you give to businesses Since then, we’ve become an industry-leading currently investing in their AV technology? developer of wireless microphone Businesses should consider AV systems and we’ve significantly manufacturers whose products increased our expertise in digital provide an intuitive, easy-to-use “When I started, signal processing and software. solution backed by top-notch Additionally, the company’s service and support. With the we only had a global footprint has significantly majority of AV now living within presence in North the IT network, any choices must increased. When I started, we only had a presence in North America, America, and now also ‘play nice’ with your existing and now we have more than 25 network infrastructure. Finally, we have more locations across the globe. businesses should also make sure whatever they choose can scale than 25 locations appropriately, allowing future How has your portfolio evolved? across the globe” One of our main goals has always deployments to leverage existing been to provide our customers with solutions and standards as they exceptional products that help grow their footprint. them tackle the challenges that come with an ever-changing, crowded spectrum environment. We’ve Outside of work, how do you spend your time? adjusted and expanded our wireless system portfolio, I spend a lot of time with my family. My son is in with systems like Axient Digital and recent college, but my daughter is still at home as a junior in innovations like Microflex Advance. The ceiling and high school. She plays soccer and also plays French table array microphones have helped transform our Horn in a band. I too play the French Horn once in a business into more of a software company from a while in various Shure groups. pure hardware company. Now, developing and Also, My newest hobby has become a small deploying software solutions that provide greater obsession – jewellery-making. I like the tinkering and levels of control, reliability and flexibility, is one of prototyping as I try to decide what direction I want to our core business objectives. go with this hobby.
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VR NEVER FELT SO REAL. A world first: AVTE travels to Lille for an exclusive look at TORE – hailed the most immersive VR experience on the p...
Published on Feb 8, 2019
VR NEVER FELT SO REAL. A world first: AVTE travels to Lille for an exclusive look at TORE – hailed the most immersive VR experience on the p...